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Mobile WiMAX service launches in U.S.

Oct 8, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Sprint launched its XOHM WiMAX service today, at a press event in Baltimore. Touted as offering “the fastest data speeds among all national carriers,” the “4G” service will work with devices distributed by Sprint, such as Nokia's Linux-based N810 tablet, or purchased independently of the service, Sprint says.

The announcement represents the culmination of years of work to adapt WiMAX for mobile use. WiMAX, or IEEE standard 802.16, was originally envisioned as a low-cost, last-mile link for metropolitan area networks (MANs) and rural areas with subscriber densities too low to justify traditional broadband infrastructure deployments. Compared to WiFi (802.11), it would support many more users per access point, and work better without an unobstructed “line-of-sight” path between antennas, Intel said when it announced the technology in Sep., 2004.

Subsequently, WiMAX was adopted by mobile companies who saw its potential as a “4G” (faster than 3Mbps) mobile data delivery technology. Participating companies worked for several years through the WiMAX Forum to develop the 802.16e “Mobile WiMAX” standard, adding cell-to-cell handoff and other features needed to support non-fixed clients.

Joining Sprint at the launch event were partners Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, Samsung, ZTE, and ZyXEL.

Initially, the XOHM service is available in Baltimore, with near-term deployments in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Sprint initially offers fixed modems and Express aircards for use with the service. Later this month, Sprint expects ZTE to begin offering a XOHM USB dongle, while Nokia will begin offering a WiMAX-enabled Nokia N810 Internet tablet. And, Sprint said, it will offer a “dual-mode 3G-4G access device” that will work both with XOHM, and with Sprint's “NOW” network, touted as the largest 3G data network in the U.S.

Additionally, Intel currently offers Baxter Peak WiMAX modules, and “Echo Peak” combo WiMAX/WiFi modules. The latter are available to OEMs and to consumers in the form of Intel Centrino 2 laptops equipped with the Intel WiMAX/WiFi Link 5050 Series feature. Many such notebooks are available now from Amazon, NewEgg, and other online retailers, Sprint said, from laptop makers that include Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba. Dell, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony also reportedly plan 2009 offerings.

Sprint plans to spin its XOHM WiMAX business assets out into a separate “Clearwire” company, expected to launch in Q4. Operating as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), the venture structure will “expedite” deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network, Sprint hopes.

More details can be found on its XOHM website, here. See also our earlier coverage of Nokia's WiMAX-enabled N810 Internet tablet.

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