With the New York Times and Businessweek both weighing in Thursday with highly favorable reviews of the Xohm WiMax service recently launched in Baltimore, it’s a safe bet there are some happy folks at Sprint and Clearwire headquarters right now. Though it’s far from champagne-popping time, you couldn’t ask for a better start to a marketing campaign than having a double-barrelled pat on your back from two mainstream publications like the Times and Businessweek.
BusinessWeek’s tech columnist Stephen Wildstrom gave the service a test run (courtesy of a Lenovo laptop with WiMax embedded inside) and found it to his liking, especially the seamless handoff between cell sites while moving. You could call him the No. 1 WiMax fanboy after reading his conclusion:
At launch, XOHM is providing faster service at lower cost than 3G networks, and it provides both mobile service and a rival to cable and phone companies for home Internet. That’s enough of a reason for all of us to cheer for WiMAX.
(Somewhere, I see Barry West sipping a scotch and smiling.)
The Times’ Bob Tedeschi also found the service to his liking, though some of his conclusions (that Wi-Fi will still dominate in rural markets — maybe he hasn’t heard that WiMax is actually making inroads in rural markets thanks to its lower cost of deployment) show that perhaps he could use a great report on the state of WiMax business in the U.S. Here’s the money quote from the Times piece:
When I visited Baltimore last week, Xohm operated at broadband speed no matter what kind of demands I put on it. I opened multiple browser windows, simultaneously streaming videos in each, without a hiccup. I ducked into alleys and hotel room corners and the connection still sped along nicely.
Reviews from the trade press were similarly enthusiastic, and in some cases with a lot more details to chew on. My favorite so far is from former colleague and Baltimore resident Nick Hoover, who is actually using WiMax as his “production network” as they say in the enterprise world — running Voice over IP for work calls, and filing stories over the broadband link. The folks over at Computerworld also gave the network a test, with favorable results.
The bottom line seems to be that Barry West and Co. did a fine job making sure the Baltimore network was up to snuff before releasing it to the public. Let’s see how the track record goes when Xohm and WiMax open up in Chicago and D.C.