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Sprint Lets WiMax Users Escape From Baltimore

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is going to start selling its first dualmode WiMax and CDMA modem next week, after first revealing to Unstrung back in September that it was going to do the double. (See Sprint Plots Dual-Mode CDMA-WiMax.)

The $150 USB dongle, made by Franklin Wireless, will automatically swap between WiMax and CDMA EV-DO connections depending on signal strengh. This means that users will get speeds of between 2 Mbit/s and 4 Mbit/s on the WiMax network, and around 1 Mbit/s or less via CDMA. Sprint is charging $80 a month for the hybrid connection plan.

The card will enable WiMax users to roam outside of the lone WiMax market that is currently officially operational (Baltimore), and use Sprint's nationwide CDMA network and -- potentially -- get connected to other networks overseas. WiMax is actually up and running in other cities, including Boston and Chicago, but Sprint won't guarantee service until those markets are officially launched.

The next official market to go live is Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s Portland, Ore., network, set to launch on Jan. 6, 2009. (See Clearwire Sets Portland WiMax Launch.)

Sprint and Clearwire have a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal to allow Sprint's XOHM WiMax customers to get connected on Clearwire's "Clear" branded WiMax networks. The Kirkland, Wash.-based operator has been hiring in to develop its own MVNO software. (See Dual Jewel?)

The company will also open up more roaming opportunities for the dongle users in 2009 as it starts to deploy a WiMax overlay on its standing fixed wireless network. (See Clearwire’s WiMax Overlay.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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