Catalysts of a new 4G wireless broadband era gathered in Baltimore as Sprint, Intel and their WiMAX ecosystem partners celebrated the recent launch of XOHM mobile 4G service, and announced new access devices and retail strategies at an Inner Harbor event.
XOHM, Sprint’s 4G business unit, is building the fastest most capable mobile broadband network available in the U.S. as compared to other national wireless carriers. XOHM and its WiMAX ecosystem will provide customers with new wireless data and web services by incorporating WiMAX capabilities in consumer electronic devices and unleashing the Internet from wires and place-based communications.
“4G has rapidly gone from a mobility vision to service reality with the launch of XOHM service in Baltimore,” said Barry West, XOHM president. “Nothing has ignited the imagination of a cross section of industries and the partnership of an ecosystem the way WiMAX technology has. We are delighted with the reception we have received.”
“This is an historic milestone for the U.S. and residents of Baltimore. We can now set our sights on ensuring a smooth city-by-city build out of WiMAX 4G and relish in what will be an incredible amount of Internet-related innovation and greater consumer freedom from wires and what has been constricted and localized hot spots,” said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer of Intel Corporation.
A hallmark of the XOHM ecosystem is an “embedded chipset” model in which manufacturers include WiMAX access within various computing, portable multimedia and Internet devices to make access more pervasive and to give customers more device choices. Intel is shipping its first-ever combined WiMAX/Wi-Fi module, formerly code-named “Echo Peak,” as part of the Intel WiMAX/Wi-Fi Link 5050 Series that is an optional feature for Intel Centrino 2-based laptops. Several PC OEMs have announced plans to deliver Intel Centrino 2-based notebooks featuring the Intel Core2 processor with WiMAX including Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba. Dell, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony also plan to support WiMAX in their laptops starting in 2009.
XOHM service was launched in September in Baltimore with a modem, an Express aircard and attractive device and service offers. In October a XOHM USB dongle by ZTE will become available. Later this month, Nokia will sell the new pocket size Nokia N810 Internet tablet WiMAX edition, with widescreen display and QWERTY keyboard, at select independent retailers in Baltimore as well as online.
Sprint will be the first and only wireless carrier to launch a dual-mode 3G – 4G access device expected later in the fourth quarter. This device will extend Sprint’s mobile broadband leadership by offering the power of the NOW network – the largest 3G data network in the U.S. – with the fastest data speeds among all national carriers available on this new 4G network in Baltimore and in future markets.
Sprint expects to complete the anticipated combination of its XOHM WiMAX business assets with Clearwire to form a new company in the fourth quarter. This new company, to be called Clearwire, will continue to expedite the deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. Following the transaction, Sprint will be the only national wireless carrier to sell 4G services through an MVNO structure with the new Clearwire.