Sprint will delay the commercial launch of WiMAX in key U.S. metropolitan areas by a couple of months. A soft launch of the wireless carrier's Xohm-branded
Internet service is already under way in the Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas.
Sprint Nextel spokesperson Jeff Chaltas said the hiatus is primarily to improve the backhaul side of the network. The upgrade will enable Sprint to more efficiently handle the huge amount of data it expects when the wireless broadband service launches, he said.
"You need a lot of backhaul capacity to do what's required for WiMAX," Chaltas explained in a telephone interview. Backhauling refers to transporting traffic from central points to clients.
Extra Breathing Room
Sprint's commercial deployment snafu had nothing to do with recent reports about an unsuccessful WiMAX trial in Australia, Chaltas noted. He said the Australians were not only using a different technology than Sprint, but also applied the technology in a different way. "It's like comparing apples to oranges," Chaltas observed.
The pause will give the wireless carrier some extra breathing room to host its Xohm Application Developer Program, tentatively slated for May. According to Sprint, the event will provide WiMAX developers with tools and processes for creating and launching products for Xohm's base.
Yet another positive outcome of the delay "is that we anticipate several more mobile WiMAX devices will be available at commercial launch, making for a better experience and a wider range of devices for our XOHM customers," Chaltas said.
For example, Samsung's Xohm-targeted E100 PC Card, which was unveiled at the CTIA Wireless 2008 exposition in Las Vegas, is not expected to be ready for release until fall.
Nokia also came to Las Vegas this month to show off its new N810 Internet Tablet for Sprint's Xohm network. However, the pocket-sized Web device is not expected to hit the marketplace until later in the current quarter.
Other Xohm-capable products are still racing to the finish line. Everex, for example, plans to embed WiMAX capability into an upcoming Ultra Mobile PC featuring Via's new C7 processor.
Sprint recently tapped Nokia Siemens Networks to implement an innovative Subscriber Data Management (SDM) system for the Xohm network that is expected to enable Sprint to offer a higher level of personalized broadband services. In addition to being able to integrate new applications quickly without service interruptions, the SDM is expected to support a host of IP and IMS-based services and applications, Sprint said.
That deal follows several other Xohm portal agreements that Sprint announced in January. Amdocs is developing software and services for the Xohm mobile Internet, while McAfee will be implementing online products for devices used on the Xohm network.
"The new service agreements and device commitments will help Xohm subscribers access, enjoy, store and secure personal digital and user-generated content while experiencing new device innovation," said Barry West, president of Sprint's Xohm business unit.