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XOHM WiMax Is Finally On

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has slightly jumped the gun on industry expectations and launched its first commercial U.S. WiMax market in Baltimore today. (See Sprint Launches XOHM.)

The third-ranked U.S. cellular operator had been expected by analysts and others to start WiMax services next week, either on October 6 or October 8. By launching in September, however, the operator just squeaked inside its own internal deadline of launching a commercial WiMax network in September this year. (See B'More Will Be First With Sprint WiMax.)

The rumors of an October 8 launch were triggered by a press invitation to an event in Baltimore on that day. Sprint spokesman John Polvika says the operator will use that event to "talk more about devices" and network performance.

The service will initially offer average downlink speeds of between 2 Mbit/s and 4 Mbit/s. Customers that want to use the service from Day 1 will be able to chose either an $80 USB modem from ZyXEL Communications Corp. or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC)'s $60 PC card for service.

There are no handheld data devices capable of using the WiMax service available at launch. The Nokia 810 WiMax tablet is expected to be the first on the network. "It will be available very soon," promises Polvika.

There are three different service packages available, none of which is tied to long contract terms: a $10 Day pass, a $25 monthly home Internet service, and a $30 monthly on-the-go service. Or, subscribers can pick two WiMax devices for $50 per month.

Sprint is providing the service with 180 mobile WiMax 802.16e base stations dotted around Baltimore. "We're adding more every week," says Polvika.

The operator will follow this up with expected launches for XOHM in Chicago and Washington late this year, although Polvika had no further updates on the status of those markets. "It [Baltimore] ends up being our validation of the business and marketing case. It is a very compact market... We'll learn some marketing lessons here."

So, Sprint is keeping the marketing local for the time being. "We'll have some door-to-door activity as well as regional advertising," Polvika notes.

It has been a long road to XOHM for Sprint. The operator first announced its plan to deploy a nationwide WiMax network in August 2006. (See Sprint Goes WiMax.) The operator had an on-off-on-again relationship to deploy this network with erstwhile partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) but got bogged down in money woes later in 2007. (See Sprint, Clearwire Split and Sprint Reconsiders WiMax Plans.) The operator slipped behind schedule in April 2008, blaming a lack of backhaul muscle for its teething troubles. A new Clearwire deal was inked in May that should see a new national WiMax operator formed by the end of the year. (See Clearwire: We're Still on Track and Sprint, Clearwire Form WiMax Giant.)

If that all goes ahead as planned then Sprint's XOHM WiMax assets will eventually be subsumed into the new Clearwire, with WiMax rollouts continuing into 2010 and beyond.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:26:09 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On Thanks.
While I put the question up I think it is something all of us in the industry are interested in.

What about the other "big" deals, SOMA in India and Moto Wateen in Pakistan...are these basically dead nets? Or is there some action?
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:26:15 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On Well, I asked for you. They're not giving out subs details yet. I'd be shocked if its a big number anyhow, what I'm trying to figure out is how small is too small, subscriber-wise.

DJ
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:26:54 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On That would be cool...

I realize there is limited coverage and there is not the sexiness of a new device, but I would think that if the performance of the service was dramatically better than 3G that you would be hearing blogs, etc. lighting up with "Wow I wish my Blackberry had this or my iPhone, etc.", or flocks of comments like "...if only there were more coverage I would change in a minute from ATT or Verizon broadband..."?

But I have not heard it. Given the bi-zillions (not to mention time) it will take to build out coverage GÇö in the end will it be another me too? And oh BTW a Clearwire (who?) me too - and that subs will simply say I am not changing service for a modest performance gain (especially if they are not dissatisfied with current performance).

Thoughts?
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:26:54 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On I'll see if anyone has any figures. Can't imagine the take-up is huge given the limited coverage.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:26:55 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On Well it is quickly approaching 2 months since the (big) Baltimore launch...but little buzz or much to be said. Is this on the same track as WiBro in Korea - that being limited subscriber uptake and lukewarm at best interest in the service?
xohmguy 12/5/2012 | 3:30:16 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On Just a reminder to Bmore residents.. We have two locations open as of Thursday at Arundel Mill Mall and Marley Station.. Harbor Galleria and Columbia open Monday.... Look for the lime green and black kiosks in the middle of the mall.. I'm at Arundel Mill Mall in the Food Court.. If anyone has questions please stop by or call the kiosk at 410-540-9060 or email me at [email protected] I would be glad to answer any questions or stop by..
gbmorrison 12/5/2012 | 3:30:45 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On This Baltimore Sun blog has a decent post on the topic:

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.co...

But I still can't tell if it's the real thing, or more press about the real thing coming.

There seems to be an invite only briefing that's happening NEXT week, Oct 8:

http://www.wimaxbaltimoreevent...

joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:30:46 PM
re: XOHM WiMax Is Finally On Any readers been able to try this yet? I would welcome any first impressions on the service.

Thanks

DJ
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