Many ardent mobile phone and laptop users are still waiting for high-speed
wireless connections to come to their cities. Many are left utilizing mobile
data plans that are on par with dial up connections from the early 1990’s
rather than being comparable to today’s broadband speeds.
PC World reports that Sprint’s
oft-delayed WiMAX service dubbed Xohm
has a soft launch coming soon. According to WiMAX Forum president and CEO
Ron Resnick, WiMAX products are here and WiMAX is here. That statement will
sound hollow to those looking forward to WiMAX in the United States.
While there have been 260 commercial deployments of WiMAX in 110 countries
according to Resnick, the service has yet to see wide availability in America,
and it could be a while yet before that happens.
Ali Tabassi, Sprint’s VP for technology development, says that a soft launch
of the Xohm service will happen this spring in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington
D.C. Tabassi points out, however, that the budget for rolling the service out
to the majority of Sprint customers is not yet finalized.
The cost of setting up a national WiMAX network from Sprint is reported to
be $5 billion and if Sprint is willing and able to part with that amount of
money is a decision Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has yet to make. $5 billion is a huge
chunk of change in anyone’s book and more so when Sprint
is cutting back on staff to cut costs as it loses
customers to rivals.
The promise Sprint’s Xohm service makes is tantalizing with WiMAX Forum
members claiming download speeds in the area of three to five megabits per
second and upload speeds of one to one and a half megabits per second.
The only thing known now aside from the soft launch in the three major U.S.
cities is that Sprint acknowledges it will not hit the 100 million subscriber
mark for its Xohm service in 2008 it had aimed for.