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.
We asked: Where else will Clearwire launch services, and when? Clearwire answered: Lots of places, including Atlanta and Las Vegas in the summer of 2009; Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Honolulu, and Charlotte, N.C. later in the year; and a re-launch of the Xohm services in Baltimore as well. Then Clearwire added in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Houston for 2010, a big-city push that wasn’t altogether unexpected. Clearwire will also roll out a bunch of smaller markets, mostly conversions of the pre-WiMax services it already has in place. The Skinny: A pretty bold answer. It was the most important information on the call, and Clearwire went a long way toward answering those who doubted the company would ever get its signals going. Now all they have to do is deliver.
– Clearwire will launch eight new mobile WiMax markets over the rest of 2009, beginning with Atlanta and Las Vegas by this summer, followed by new launches in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Philadelphia later in the year; Clearwire will also add mobile WiMax services to its existing pre-WiMax services in Seattle, Honolulu and the Charlotte, N.C., urban area. It will also re-launch the existing “Xohm” market in Baltimore as a Clearwire-branded entity, also later in the year.
– In 2010, Clearwire plans to add mobile WiMax services in additional markets, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Houston, along with more of its existing pre-WiMax markets. Clearwire said it may speed or slow deployments based on the availability of capital.
– Clearwire says it has enough capital on hand to fund these plans, and plans to spend between $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion during 2009.
– Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff said that seeking government funding from the stimulus bill is a possibility, but that Clearwire’s current buildout plans do not factor in any government money.
– Clearwire will offer a “personal hot spot,” a mobile router that combines WiMax access with Wi-Fi broadcast capability, by the end of March. It will offer a dual-mode 3G/4G laptop card by this summer, which will work on the Sprint 3G network when not connected to Clearwire’s WiMax service.
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