Take heart, brave customers of the WiMAX brand known as Xohm — for on Dec. 2 of this year, your service will be switched over to Clearwire’s Clear WiMAX service, at what appears to be no extra cost to current Xohm customers.
While we may hear more official news about the cutover during this afternoon’s quarterly earnings call, Clearwire has already started sending emails to current Xohm customers in the Baltimore area, telling them to act now to get a free new modem and/or a software upgrade so that they can connect to the new Clear network that is about to go online. From an email sent to us by a loyal Sidecut tipster, Clearwire said in part:
On December 2, we’ll flip the switch. On that day, simply follow the instructions that ship with your new modem and software, and you’ll be online surfing in no time. No service interruptions. Your bill will remain the same, and you won’t be charged a thing for the new modem and software.
After a little over a year, the first big market in the U.S. to get mobile WiMAX services is going offline, probably for a month or so, something that was predicted and that we talked about a couple weeks ago. Just because we care… looks like the Xohm website is now only open to registered users, or the few and brave who already bought WiMAX services in Baltimore.
Still no word from Clearwire folks who last week nailed down most of the remaining 2009 launch schedule without adding any details about when the good folks in Baltimore can expect to see Clear services replacing Xohm. Guessing we may hear more this week at the Sprint developer conference right here in Sillycon Valley, so we will let you know what we hear.
UPDATE, 10/27/09: At the Sprint Open Developers Conference today we saw a market-launches slide with Baltimore in the 2010 column. Don’t look good, Baltimore!
Don’t feel bad if you forgot to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the biggest launch of WiMAX services here in the U.S. — in fact, you could be forgiven if you had assumed that “Xohm,” the name given to Sprint’s WiMAX offering in Baltimore that debuted Sept. 29, 2008, was already dead. But like the character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Xohm’s not quite dead yet — but it is only truly a well-timed whack away from joining the other carcasses on the meat-wagon.
Fortunately for those looking for 4G wireless services in the Xohm area, Baltimore will soon get its own implementation of Clearwire’s “Clear” WiMAX offering, built upon the Xohm guts with perhaps a bit more robustness stirred in. But that might not happen until the end of the year gets closer — and in the meantime if you call the Xohm folks they will tell you they aren’t signing up any new users right now; instead you get a very nice explanation about how Clear is coming soon.
We’d heard some rumors that the Xohm website was also offline, but if it had disappered, like Jason it appears to have re-animated itself back into working order and open for service — we’re not sure why, if the closure and turnover to Clear is scheduled for sometime in the next two months. It’s just another puzzling facet in what could probably become a business-school case study on how not to launch a new service.
In fairness to the folks behind Xohm, its days were numbered when the Clearwire-Sprint merger finally went through in late November of last year, effectively transferring all Xohm operations into Clearwire’s wheelhouse. Since elements of the service were not compatible with Clearwire’s network designs (and according to some internal sources, not quite up to the level of technical performance Clearwire desired), it became apparent that Clearwire was going to have to rip and replace the Xohm network — you just wonder why it took the company so long to rid itself of an albatross brand and a sputtering network that does nothing to enhance the idea that WiMAX networks can deliver as promised.
But even as Xohm gets ready for its long dirt nap, WiMAX proponents might want to raise a glass and cheer its idea of an advanced wireless data network, a strategy that evolved into what Clearwire and its big investor camp of Comcast, Google and Intel are pushing today. The ludicrous name, however, deserves to find its final resting place, never to be disturbed again. C’mon Xohm. time to climb onto the cart. You’re not fooling anyone, you know.
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