Boston, Philly, Dallas next for Sprint’s WiMax

August 28, 2008

They’re whoopin’ it up at Sprint headquarters, as the Xohm WiMax folks there celebrate hitting an internal infrastructure deployment date well ahead of schedule. A confident and happy Xohm president Barry West spoke with us by phone Thursday afternoon for an update on the inaugural Xohm launch in Baltimore in September, as well as device, bandwidth and spectrum issues for both Sprint’s solo launches in 2008 and the expected merged operations in the New Clearwire for 2009.

According to West, the celebratory mood was due to the ops team getting its 1,000th WiMax base station “on the air” one full month before its internal target date. In addition to the Baltimore network, West said the number of live sites (now at 1,066) includes buildouts in Sprint’s two other previously announced 2008 launch markets of Chicago and Washington, D.C., as well as equipment being installed in Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth.

While West did not divulge a launch timeframe for the new cities, he did confirm that Baltimore, D.C. and Chicago will all go live as most recently promised, with average download speeds of 3 to 5 Mbps in the network coverage areas. West also said that Sprint will have a small assortment of devices ready for the Baltimore launch, including modems from Zyxel and ZTE, as well as two devices for laptops, one a USB-attached device from ZTE and the other a PC card from Samsung. Nokia’s already announced Xohm-ready WiMax tablet, West said, should be available shortly after the Baltimore launch.

According to West, Sprint has solved just about all the problems it had faced earlier in getting the right amount of backhaul services to WiMax towers, in part by adopting some of the microwave-backhaul techniques of its imminent marriage partner Clearwire.

“It was one of those logistics things where when you get the funnel working, it really works for you,” said West about the backhaul backlog. West said Sprint’s tech teams recently added 25 live sites in a single day, supporting his belief that there will be no further delays in bringing WiMax to market.

We will have a more in-depth post covering our full conversation with Mr. West live in the next few days. In the meantime if you need to learn more about WiMax, you can order our Sidecut Report on WiMax, which provides an in-depth look at the technology and the “new” Clearwire deal.