Sprint And Clearwire Break Up: Bad News For Both... And Anyone Looking Forward To WiMax

from the slow-it-down dept

While we've been quite critical about WiMax in the past, it was mostly due to the ridiculous hype around the technology well before it actually existed. There was so much hype that many (including reporters) simply claimed it existed when it did not. Even some companies referred to their non-WiMax wireless broadband solutions as WiMax. However, with Intel pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into it and Sprint deciding to bet on WiMax, we hoped that perhaps it could actually live up to its hype someday (though, not for a long time, certainly). When Sprint agreed to team up with Clearwire to build a single nationwide WiMax network, it seemed even more reasonable a possibility that it could actually come to be. Splitting the cost of the infrastructure made a tremendous amount of sense. So much sense... that it might not be happening. Due to Sprint's recent troubles (where it's even considering ditching WiMax altogether, due to some incredibly shortsighted investor pressure) Sprint and Clearwire have called off their agreement to work together on a nationwide WiMax network.

This is bad news for just about everyone (with the possible temporary exception of the other US mobile operators and baby bells). Without the combined effort, it makes it even more questionable whether either one will be able to go much further with WiMax, let alone build their own nationwide WiMax network. Sprint may end up dropping the WiMax effort altogether (again, due to shortsighted investors) and Clearwire may just be in trouble. It also hurts anyone who was hoping for real wireless broadband in the near future. While the other mobile operators and landline broadband providers may breathe a sigh of relief, it means that those companies can slow down their own plans for next generation services, as the competition won't be as fierce and they won't seem quite as late to the game. There is still some talk that something else could potentially happen with Sprint spinning off its WiMax network plans and merging that with Clearwire, but without the strong backing of Sprint, the plan is less likely to get as far. This isn't the death of WiMax, but it certainly opens up the opportunity for some other wireless broadband offerings to take away some of the WiMax hype.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Jim Harper, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 7:58am

    Damn!

    But, also, the post describing the WSJ article (which I ain't gonna pay to read) says, "[T]here are no indications that either company will halt build-out plans . . . ." So that's good.

     

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  •  

    Opportunity for Others

    Don't you think that someone must have their eyes on building up a WiMax network? I think this is just a temporary delay which will soon be back on track.

     

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    identicon
    Jeff, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:01am

    Anything to do with the upcoming 700 MHz Auction?

    Maybe a dumb Q, but could this have anything to do with the upcoming 700 MHz Auction and / google?

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:19am

    No, Not 700MHz

    RE # 3
    No, it doesn't have much to do with the 700MHz auction. That auction is not new information, and has been in the works for the better part of a decade. Sprint was well aware of it all along.

    In fact, the 700MHz auction is an accelerator for Sprint's 2.5GHz mobile broadband plans. Sprint has it's frequencies NOW, but the 700 band will have to wait until 2009 for TV broadcasters to vacate the premises. Then there will be the standard tech delays and deployment issues. Sprint has a couple of years head-start...if it starts soon. If successful, a two-year head start is a very big advantage. If they don't hustle, the 2.5GHZ spectrum is at a disadvantage to the 700MHz because of RF propagation.

    Google...What can I say? Great search firm, but that doesn't mean they are a threat to every other company out there. Exaggerating here, but people are afraid to invest in air conditioner companies because: what if Google wanted to build an air conditioner - The G-conditioner. It would rule! It would be the best airco out there, and also not evil. LG, GE, and Haier better get ready.

     

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    identicon
    Iona Juman, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 7:59am

    Sprint...

    Sprint should go out of business. I have had to pay for two cell phone when I only had one, and was put through collection agencies. In order to save my credit paid $360 for the two phones(one never had.)

    I contacted CEO at the time and everyone else connected with the company.

    I will never use spring again...worst company...hope they go under.

     

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    ipzedge, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 6:11pm

    worldwide wi-fi starting this spring

    there is a company that will have 100% coverage of USA/Canada
    starting this spring and under $20 a month

     

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    identicon
    alaric, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 6:11am

    Sprint will go LTE

    They're just looking for an excuse to dump WiMAX.

    1) they really don't have the money, time (opportunity cost) to build another network with poor coverage

    2) WiMAX will not help their bottom line when bit when users demand voice and sprint's voice network has some coverage issues.

    3) They're the only mobile operator to support wimax. No one wants that position in life, and more importantly, WiMaX is a sea of incomptability with every other network.

    4) Mobile WiMAX is spectrally inefficient, does not support true soft handoffs, and has plenty of other technical issues

    Intel needs to learn that you can't launch a mobile system by hype alone. There has got to be something else.

     

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      Wireless guy, Jan 26th, 2008 @ 10:13am

      Re: Sprint will go LTE

      WiMAX does not have soft handoff issues. It can do both soft and harh handoffs.

      It also supports mobile IP and full mobility.

      WiMAX is the only true known long range wireless option for IP connections. Only known nearest competitor is LTE and their standards are not finished yet. So WiMAX as is has a 4 year head start

       

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