Sprint: More on B'More

GLITTER GULCH -- NXTcomm 2008 -- Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) wants to use its first commercial mobile WiMax launch in Baltimore in September to collect more data on how initial customers will use the service, the operator tells Unstrung here at the Vegas broadband show.

We caught up with Atish Gude, senior VP of business operations for Sprint's Xohm WiMax unit, and he explained in more detail why Sprint is launching Baltimore before Chicago and Washington. The other two cities are due to go commercial before the end of the year. (See B'More Will Be First With Sprint WiMax.) Gude describes Baltimore as an ideal "model" for Sprint to derive more information on how people will use the network. The carrier wants more insight into "data usage" and traffic trends from the initial commercial services.

Gude and his Sprint colleagues still aren't going into exact detail on how Sprint will price the new service. He reiterates that the carrier will probably borrow a page from "cable and DSL pricing" and is planning schemes of "$50 or less."

The operator will also look at things like "day passes" for users that just want to hop on the network for a short time. The firm, however, isn't planning to cap data downloads as it has on some plans on its 3G network. "People want unlimited," says Gude.

The September launch for Baltimore makes it more likely it will be introduced under the Sprint Xohm brand. Later launches are more likely to fall under the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) marquee as the deal to create this "new" WiMax operator is expected to close sometime in the fourth quarter. (See Clearwire: We're Ready for Primetime.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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