by Carlo Longino

Sprint Chooses WiMAX For 4G Network

from the finally dept

One big motivation behind the Sprint-Nextel merger was the huge amount of 2.5 GHz spectrum the combined company would own. Before the merger, both companies had been testing various wireless broadband technologies from multiple vendors with the intention of building a fourth-generation network in the spectrum, and despite an investment in IPWireless and comments about other technologies, the WSJ is reporting that later today, Sprint will announce it's chosen to use WiMAX for the network. This would be a huge boost for the technology, which thus far has been long on hype but short on large-scale rollouts. It would also be a big win for Intel, which has pumped a lot of money into WiMAX, with the hope of creating a market its chips can dominate. One strong contender for the new Sprint network was Flash-OFDM technology from Flarion, which was then bought by Qualcomm. But it's widely believed that Qualcomm' control of the technology worked against it, as part of the growing backlash against Qualcomm's IP licensing practices. Choosing WiMAX may not get operators like Sprint totally out of the woods, though, as Qualcomm has acted like it has IP that's relevant to WiMAX. Also keep in mind that this new WiMAX network would be in addition to Sprint's existing CDMA mobile network, which it continues to upgrade. One significant challenge for the company will be convincing consumers and investors of the value of this new network, and that it's not redundant. Update: Sprint has confirmed that it's going with mobile WiMAX, and plans to launch the network by the end of 2007, with significant coverage by 2008. It's announced an alliance with Intel, Samsung and Motorola, and is promising initial downlink speeds of between 2 to 4 Mbps. Sprint execs also briefly ran through their reasons for not selecting the other technologies they evaluated: Qualcomm/Flarion's Flash-OFDM wasn't conducive to their spectrum, while IPWireless' technology couldn't provide a suitable ecosystem, and 3G LTE and HSxPA technologies couldn't be brought to market quickly enough. Sprint's decision should give mobile WiMAX significant momentum and influence other carriers' views of the technology. One final point: interesting timing on the announcement, with Sprint throwing down a gauntlet of sorts the day before the big AWS spectrum auction starts.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Raymoundo, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    DO Camper vs WiMAX

    while the speed claims are stupid, let's differentiate who is claiming the speeds. DO can do in the multi-megabit in a 'burst' fashion and not sustained. In a real world situation, carriers have backed off the burst speeds as the main draw. If you check with VZW, Sprint and CNG, they're all claiming 400-700 kbps to set minimal expectations. So if WiMAX does give that cable modem-like speed then it'll blow anything that Rev 0 and Rev A can do. alaric sounds like you are a Qualcomm guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Alaric, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    Re:DO Camper vs WiMAX

    I'm not a qualcomm guy, i'm just fed up of intel's wimax hype. Now that said, my understanding (from some good sources) is that wimax (802.16e) will not offer any improvement in spectral efficiency (over the air) compared to ev-do or hsdpa. Wimax should and better offer improvements on the MAC side and that factors into overall data carrying capacity. However, everything simulation that i've seen indicates that wimax is going to have some significant self interference issues. One way around that is the use of intelligent antennas but you have to wonder about using that as a band aid to heal problems with the basic air interface. If i was sprint, i would have wait. Oh wait, sorry, they still can can't they.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    alaric, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    interesting...wimax does not work

    sprint has announced that it will deploy a technology that does not work on mobility. They seem to be jumping a little bit ahead no? 2-4 mbps downstream is something that ev-do can do in its latest format. So what is sprint getting. EV-DO is also all IP. They put other techs through the ringer and now they announce they will deploy something which does not work? Sprint will not be able to deploy that system in mass by 2008.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jake, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 6:05am

    NO one cares

    Sprint sucks end of story
    First post woot

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    rocky graham, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 6:49am


    I agree and it doesnt matter how much they buy sprint will always suck!!!!!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Charles Frolick, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 7:32am

    Cellular Sucks

    I have used Sprint service for years, and have had few problems. I have had many company phones on various other providers with equally varied results, but for my personal phone I still prefer Sprint, they have not screwed me and the services works no less frequently than any others.

    Cellular service plain sucks, the whole system is decades away from proper coverage from any provider. I has been frotunate that most of the time my company phone and personal phone ore on different providers, because then at least one of them will work most anwhere I go, but even in as flat of a city as Houston, there are a number of buildings, no cellular service works unless you are in just the right spot.

    Also, Houston has very good Sprint and Cingular service coverage, T-Mobile and Verizon, not so good. Another city, another result. The cariers have different growth plans and goals and treat each region differently, your mileage will vary.

    For me, I like Sprint. As for the Article in WSJ, it leads to what the decision may influence for other carriers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Comboman, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 7:48am

    IP = Internet Protocol

    Although it becomes clear later in the article that you're using IP to stand for Intellectual Property, in general (and especially in tech circles), IP stands for Internet Protocol. Can we please standardize on this interpretation? (unless you think VOIP stands for Voice Over Intellectual Property)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Hooligan, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 8:00am

    RE:IP = Internet Protocol

    Get real...any smart person will look at the context things are written in and know exactly what it means.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Thinking Sprint Now, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 8:03am

    Yes, Sprint does suck...but that's only because of their crappy CDMA network...if they move everything over to WiMax in the next few years, they would be the undisputed king of cellular (imagine 54Mbps or more on your cell phone, puts 3G to shame).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    amar maktal, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 8:14am

    Sprint ain't that bad

    sprints service offering isn't as bad as you think. expensive perhaps, but you can't beat sprints live tv, ev-do, and ability to tether to your pc. they could roam better with verizon too; but at least they dont bastardize their phones.

    verizon user

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Eddie, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 8:40am

    my 2 cents

    Sprint isn't THAT bad- the service has been the only reason I have stayed with them for 8 years... the actual CELLULAR service. Customer service has improved since the merge with Nextel.

    I foresee this being a good example of "Good things come to those that wait" Meaning Sprint will benefit greatly from WiMax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    mike, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 9:17am

    Had Them All

    Over the years, I have had all the major carriers in Southern California and no coverage compares to Sprint ... in buildings, across hillsides, valleys, and highways and even when we traveled to New Orleans (pre Katrina), the coverage in the bayous of Lousiana or up Hwy 55 in Mississippi to Memphis, Sprint was never "down" (sent pictures of gators from the swamps to the 'net on that trip, as well).

    Not the greatest phone selection, especially if you use their Ready Link, but I suppose the WiMax will only improve matters in the long run.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Scott, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    Re: IP = Internet Protocol

    How about you just read the goddamn article and correct it in your own mind, and leave the rest of us to read the goddamn thing without your correcting comments?, Eh?, Sound Good? YES IT DOES!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: IP = Internet Protocol

    "Sound Good? YES IT DOES!"

    In the future, could you please heed your own advice? Kettle, meet pot.

    (also, I would like to point out that I am further doing absolutely nothing of value for the actual article, but this is not ignorance (as your post was) its a display of paradigm.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Dan, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: IP = Internet Protocol

    Um what? Yeah whatever he said... paradigm something.

    Anyway, I agree, they should get off their ass and type the extra 19 characters. Too many damn acronyms in this world!

    And Jake, you're a freaking nob. That first post crap is so damn stupid, but at least you add the "woot"... and that pretty much makes up for the stupidity right there...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Mike Mixer, Aug 8th, 2006 @ 9:05pm


    All I care about is that high speed internet becomes as prolific as the damn phone. All you knuckleheads screaming"I don't have any bars" is enough to make me vomit. I saw a lady walk right by a payphone in the mall today complaining about having to go out in the heat to use her cellphone. Such stupidity should be rewarded with a swift kick in the ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Jeremy, Aug 9th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: IP = Internet Protocol

    Is there any need for the profanity? Just curious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Sudhir, Aug 9th, 2006 @ 3:03pm

    Finally the last mile

    Once this becomes a reality -- through Sprint or Whoever -- the last mile problem for broadband access will no longer constrain the minds in Silicon Valley from coming up with innovative applications that can bring about a lifestyle change...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Shawn, Aug 10th, 2006 @ 7:15am

    A Very Good Move

    This is definitely somewhat of a gamble for them, but I feel that they would have to take some sort of gamble on something in order to produce something disruptive enough to potentially propel themselves to the top o' the pile.

    I'm just surprised that some carrier hasn't already tried to rollout a cheaper/faster wireless data network nationally thus far.

    The day we stop 'changing' is the day we start 'dying'...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Max, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 7:40pm

    Great. Here in NZ we have been commercialising '4G' wireless broadband for a while now. This decision represents a step toward standardisation. For us it ensures that new emerging devices developed for 4G will come with embedded chipsets. One more step toward ubiquity.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    New sprinter, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 8:59pm

    ready link sucks

    I jost got two new sprint phones today but the ready-link "push to talk" features is really crappy here in Austin, TX - three out of four "test-123's" have some distortion while 1 out of 4 is completely unintelligible - the result is that only about 1 in 8 push-to-talk transmissions comes through without any loss of verbiage. Slight distortion is like "Hi Ho...ow are yo...u ?: while the 1 in 4 would be something like "Hi.... .... ou..."

    I am under my 30 days and I guess I need to return my phones and get service with someone else... really sucks since it is a big waste of time, energy, and probably at least some small amount of money.

    Anyone else having trouble with the push-to-talk from Sprint?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Frances, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:42pm

    "Cell phones" and WiMAX

    You Americans really are a bunch of whiners!

    You try to implement a mobile phone system (cellphone) and all you get is a wretched disaster created by the love of competition!

    Europe and other countries have had a VERY high quality mobile phone system for years - it's called GSM. All you damned Americans could think of was your lousy AMPS systems (with no roaming within the country). "Gosh Jed, does that mean I have to have a different cell phone for every city I vist? Yup, sure does Clem !"

    That is why your have a third rate "cellphone" system - because your networks are 3rd rate !!

    As for WiMAX - the list of inadequacies are almost endless. Well, at least you'll be used to the crappy services .....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    M, Feb 25th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    WiMax is a brick

    I have been a WiMax user since 2004 in my local area for last mile service. The modems are huge, and while portable, are not just a 'plug in a card' internet solution. I had hoped I'd be able to take wimax with me when I relocated, but currently my provider (Razzolink) is the only one actually providing SERVICE at the moment anywhere in California. Redwire (now Airlband) made promises, but never delivered on a consumer program. Prices are high (starting at 26.95 for 384 bps) and the hype is even higher. Wimax has been successfully implemented throughout the 3rd world, but no company Stateside has the balls to trust the consumer or the know-how to deliver it. They're too fat sitting on the tax dollars we've been giving them in exchange for their 'free internet for all' promises, if only every Californian would pay a 10% telecommunications surcharge, since the late 1990's. -Time to move on. Sprint bought this technology to bury it; as it will never see actual implementation unless or until a competitor offers something better to consumers for less money. Face it folks, until we hold these jerks accountable to their promises we will always have inferior internet choices than people who live in countries.
    -Mal ::very experienced with WiMax::

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    M, Feb 25th, 2007 @ 2:11pm

    Re: WiMax is a brick

    P.S. -To those hoping to have 54Mps from their cellphone with WiMax.... Sorry, but the fastest sustained connection we were EVER able to achieve with unthrottled service in Australia downloading from pole to modem (no router in between) was 3Mbs.

    The technology is new, and currently Intel has all the power. Maybe if they begin licensing the manufacturing rights to 3rd parties, they will make improvements or develop add-on technology, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen. As it already enjoys a large implementation throughout the world, and as the industry has recently developed standards for all WiMax products to conform to, it's unlikely that there will be much motivation on the part of developers to make big changes to what they've already been selling to their customer base.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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