Sprint's WiMax Laundry List

Wireless Internet access -- pure, simple, and cheap -- will be the focus of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)’s first mobile WiMax deployment in Baltimore, which is due to go commercial in September this year.

Speaking at the recent NXTcomm show in Las Vegas, Atish Gude, VP of business operations for Sprint’s Xohm WiMax unit, ran down a laundry list of ways he expects the network to be different from standard cellular offerings. Aside from the focus on mobile data, not voice, some of the key differences will be in how much it charges for service and the way people can billed. Gude is promising monthly prices of $50 or less and options such as a “day-pass” for sometime users.

“Few customers can afford $60 all-you-can-eat packages,” Gude said. "We want to give people a diverse set of plans to match their consumption.” He goes into more depth on video:

This kind of model and pricing makes the initial WiMax deployment something more akin to commercial WiFi hotspot deployments. The initial devices that will be available for the network also reflect this data-centric focus, with WiMax cards and the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) 810 tablet being some of the initial offerings.

Sprint will follow the Baltimore launch with Chicago and Washington, D.C., WiMax networks in the fourth quarter. Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is planning a Portland, Ore., launch on roughly the same time-frame. Both operators will then combine their networks to deploy WiMax networks nationwide through 2010.

The new Clearwire had a little of its WiMax thunder stolen this week, however, as a far smaller startup operator became the first to deploy mobile WiMax in the U.S. DigitalBridge Communications Corp. unveiled its 802.16e deployment in upscale Jackson Hole, Wyo., this Monday. (See Sprint, Clearwire Create $14.5B WiMax Giant, Clearwire: We'll Kick LTE's Butt, and Sprint: More on B'More.)


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