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Sprint Nextel launches WiMax service

02 октября 2008

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest US mobile network operator, on Monday launched its next-generation 4G wireless broadband service based on WiMax technology in Baltimore, Maryland.

The launch is the first step in the planned nationwide rollout of Sprint Nextel's Xohm service, designed to deliver low-cost wireless broadband internet access at speeds similar to fixed cable and DSL lines to users.

At launch, Sprint Nextel is offering a choice of introductory services packages including a $10-a-day pass and a $30-a-month plan for mobile access – significantly cheaper than rival cellular data plans.

The US mobile operator plans to launch the service, which promises average data download speeds of between of 3Mbps and 5Mbps (mega-bits per second), in other metropolitan areas including Washington, DC and Chicago by year end. It has also begun building the infrastructure needed to support services in a number of other markets, including Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth.

The commercial launch represents a key test of customer acceptance of the technology that promises mobile high-speed, low-cost internet access using devices such as laptop computers and mobile internet devices.

Sprint announced recently that it had signed deals with several partners to provide location services to make it easier for subscribers to find nearby restaurants, movie theatres, and other points of interest as well as plot routes on maps and get detailed information and directions on the go.

The Baltimore launch is also an important test for Sprint Nextel, which has been struggling to stem customer losses in its core mobile business in the face of fierce competition from AT&T's mobile unit and Verizon Wireless.

Sprint Nextel backed WiMax rather than a competing 4G technology called LTE (Long Term Evolution) supported by most of the world's biggest wireless carriers including Vodafone and China Mobile. The US operator, which first announced plans to invest in a nationwide 4G wireless broadband network based on WiMax technology two years ago, chose the technology in part because it was relatively mature.

The company claims it has a two-year time-to-market advantage over LTE, though some analysts have cautioned that this supposed window of opportunity appears to be narrowing.

Sprint Nextel is however betting that WiMax will help its recovery strategy and add new customers.

Источник: Financial Times

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