September 29, 2008
Sprint Xohm Launches in Baltimore
At last, WiMax:
The first real market saturated with WiMax anywhere in the world for general consumer home and mobile use is out. Yes, Seoul has WiBro, compatible with mobile WiMax, but they have very few users because—the last I’ve heard about the network—deployment is focused in limited areas.
Baltimore is a real production market, where Sprint will actively push the service as a home broadband replacement ($25 per month), a mobile option ($30 per month), and even an a la carte option (the egregious $10 per day). Subsidized laptop cards are $60; home receivers $80.
The company also offers a two device, $50 per month plan; I expect those deals will become cheaper over time because the WiMax promise is an ecosystem of devices owned by one person. That’s not going to happen with a high monthly price tag attached to every device.
Two more markets have been in preparation for a while, and are expected soon. The Clearwire joint venture could complete in fourth quarter.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:45 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: launches | Comments (0)
September 23, 2008
Motorola Announces WiMax Dongle for Laptops
Motorola will offer the USBw 100 for multiple bands:
The dongle, expect to ship in 2008’s fourth quarter, will allow laptop users to access WiMax networks in the most popular bands: 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, and 3.5 GHz. The MIMO USB adapter doesn’t have an announced price.
A dongle extends the practical utility of WiMax networks, because the vast majority of laptops won’t have WiMax built in or available as an internal option until sometime in 2009. PC Cards and ExpressCards are another option—Motorola already has a PC Card—but an increasing number of laptops eschew card-expansion slots for size, cost, and practical reasons. Few people need them these days.
A dongle is not a thing of beauty, but it’s a great way to get an antenna out of a case and at an extension from a laptop.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:59 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, Hardware, Mobile WiMax | Comments (0)
July 15, 2008
Sprint, Clearwire Deployment Updates: Late, Later
MuniWireless has the scoop on how WiMax deployments from Sprint and Clearwire are progressing:
Intel is late on its silicon, so Centrino2 won’t feature WiMax built in, as was planned for the last couple of years, I thought. Clearwire and Sprint will keep operating separately until the fourth quarter, assuming they can close their joint venture that will be called Clearwire, but feature Sprint majority ownership and Sprint’s 4G assets transferred to the new entity. Sprint will launch WiMax in Baltimore in September with Chicago and D.C. to follow; Clearwire in Portland by fourth quarter, then Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Grand Rapids, Mich.
Grand Rapids, you may ask—why Grand Rapids? That’s the one municipal contract proposal that Clearwire answered and won in competition with Wi-Fi service providers. It’s been a testbed since, as I understand it, for providing more comprehensive services as the city had a requirement for coverage area and other parameters
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:49 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mobile WiMax, launch plans | Comments (0)
June 18, 2008
Commercial WiMax Launches in September in Baltimore
Sprint’s CEO announces the commercial launch at trade show:
Dan Hesse said that Sprint’s WiMax offering will first launch in Baltimore, followed “later” (no time given) in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Apparently, no details on pricing, production speeds, and so forth. In testing, 2 to 4 Mbps downstream speeds were used.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:44 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5 GHz, Mobile WiMax, launch plans | Comments (0)
June 17, 2008
2.5 GHz Gets Official: Certified WiMax Products Appear
In an important move for costs eventually moving lower for Clearwire/Sprint, the WiMax Forum has certified its first 2.5 GHz products:
The firms include all that putative joint venture’s partners: Intel, Motorola, Samsung, and Zyxel, as well as Airspan, Alvarion, Beceem, and Sequans, some of which may also supply gear. Nortel recently shifted its WiMax strategy to lean on Alvarion’s research and development after not getting contracts to be a main supplier to Sprint or Clearwire. The 3.5 GHz certification could start late this year; those frequencies will be in wide use outside the US.
Certification is a tricky thing in the WiMax world because it was designed in waves, and it isn’t explained anywhere on the WiMax Forum site that I can find, nor outside of a vendor comment that this is Wave 2, is it mentioned in this press release. Each wave includes a set of concepts and device types. Monica Paolini, a wireless analyst and consultant who has worked for the WiMax Forum, spelled this out nearly three years ago
for Wi-Fi Planet.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:01 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5 GHz, 802.16-2005 (16e), Certification, WiMax Forum | Comments (0)
June 12, 2008
Nortel Moves to LTE, Away from WiMax
Nortel was trumpeting its WiMax prowess last year:
But they missed out on major contracts in the U.S., and so are shifting their focus to Long Term Evolution (LTE), the path for GSM operators (and Verizon) to fourth-generation networks. Three of the four major U.S. carriers are committed to LTE; Sprint is the lone WiMax holdout. Intel’s wireless chief made comments recently about pushing LTE and WiMax into a converged, compatible format, too.
Nortel will partner with WiMax pioneer Alvarion to continue its WiMax work, but obviously is leaning on them, and putting its research and development money into LTE.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:40 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware, Industry News | Comments (0)
June 3, 2008
Intel Calls for WiMax, LTE Convergence
Intel’s sales and marketing head calls for unified WiMax, LTE for 4G:
Sean Maloney has been a driving force behind WiMax, and he makes a good point. With Qualcomm-driven standards not in the running for U.S. and European cell data evolution—nor in many other parts of the world—there’s not much of a patent or single-company-owned technology debate here. Really, it’s a question about evolution and interoperability. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are committed to LTE; Sprint and Clearwire to WiMax. WiMax technology is available today; LTE could be in the 2010-2012 timeframe for real deployments. WiMax can push 10 to 20 Mbps or more depending on spectrum allocation and other issues; LTE is estimated to offer 50 to 100 Mbps downstream.
Maloney said 80 percent of the two technologies were the same and Motorola says it will reuse 85 percent of what was developed for WiMax in its LTE design.
Sounds very rational. With Intel’s backing, carriers might go for it, because it could mean having every laptop shipped already containing an LTE receiver.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:45 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mobile WiMax, cellular, future technologies | Comments (0)
May 21, 2008
Schools Profit from Clearwire, Sprint License Purchases
The LA Times uncovers a fact that those of us following WiMax know: schools are reaping a huge payday and other help from their spectrum licenses:
The LA Times has a lot of specifics about how academic institutions, granted licenses for distance learning and broadcasting, have managed to take in hundreds of millions of dollars that benefit their students and campuses. The 2.5 GHz band that these schools hold geographic licenses to can be leased to commercial entities under rules set by the FCC to make better use of the band. Some of the sublessors have paid for schools to move broadcasts from analog to digital, improving their service and freeing up bandwidth, as well as licensing fees. The paper estimates that 1,400 agreements have been signed to lease spectrum.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:08 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Licensed spectrum, Mobile WiMax | Comments (0)
May 7, 2008
Official Sprint/Clearwire Details Out
The press release ships:
The new $14.5b (estimated) joint venture between Clearwire and Sprint will be called Clearwire. That’s another ego win on top of the financial win for one Mister Craig McCaw. Clearwire “2” will be headed by current CEO Ben Wolff, and the president will be Sprint’s very smart CTO and mobile broadband chief Barry West. They’ll headquarter in Kirkland, Wash., with R&D in Herndon, Virg. Sprint will own 51 percent, Clearwire 27 percent, and the new investors 22 percent.
Their new announced plan is to pass 120 to 140m people by 2010, which is fairly modest, but Sprint will be retaining its current 3G business. Clearwire, Sprint, and all the cable investors announced 3G and 4G sales deals that will allow all partners to resell all 3G and 4G services. That was apparently an earlier missing piece for cable operators, who didn’t want to invest in a service that wouldn’t be rolled out across their entire territories for some time.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:44 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5 GHz, Mobile WiMax, financial, launches | Comments (0)
May 6, 2008
Sprint, Clearwire in Imminent $12b Deal
The Wall Street Journal reports that a joint venture is almost ready to announce that will combine Clearwire with Sprint’s wireless broadband division in a $12b company that will receive an infusion of $3.2b from outside firms, including Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Google. The deal could be announced tomorrow. The cable involvement is clear: Cable providers may have a path to a 50 Mbps broadband vision (a standard that’s rolling out now), but they need mobile partners for data and voice, and Sprint has been that partner for the four big MSO (multiple system operators).
This deal would validate the WiMax approach, and ensure that a national network would be built with enough spectrum in each market to provide the greatest possible bandwidth. It would be yet another win for Craig McCaw, of course, the man who essentially dictates through his ability to be smart ahead of the market what wireless voice and broadband will look like tomorrow, always tomorrow.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:34 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5 GHz, Mobile WiMax, competitive landscape, deals, financial | Comments (0)
April 23, 2008
Sprint WiMax Head Says His Tech Here, Now, Works
Sprint’s Xohm division head Barry West tells the Wireless Communications Association that WiMax is real:
He points out that critics that are adopting LTE (Long Term Evolution) are signing on to a standard that won’t be deployed for some time (2 to 4 years, depending on the firm and what you believe).
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:26 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mobile WiMax, hype, launch plans | Comments (0)
April 10, 2008
Mobile WiMax Profile for Korean Frequencies First for Certification
The WiMax Forum certifies first mobile WiMax products:
However, they’re all for the 2.3 GHz profile, used in South Korea, not the 2.5 GHz profile which will be used by Sprint Nextel and Clearwire in the US, nor the 3.5 GHz profile used in Europe and beyond. Eight devices were certified
. Certification for devices using 2.5 GHz is coming later this year.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:07 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.3 GHz, Mobile WiMax, Standards | Comments (0)
April 4, 2008
Sprint Xohm Network Delayed; Backhaul the Issue
Sprint pushes back its WiMax network launch:
The production version of the network, currently in trials, won’t launch until the summer at earliest in their first markets. Unstrung is saying
that backhaul to WiMax base station sites is the issue, not the underlying technology. Which I have to say makes sense, given that a fair amount of the technology is actively in production.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:50 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mobile WiMax, Trials, launch plans | Comments (0)
April 2, 2008
Nokia Offers N810 Tablet with WiMax
Nokia demoed its N810 tablet with embedded WiMax: The latest version of their N800-series tablets will ship when Sprint Nextel’s Xohm service launches later this quarter. The current similar tablet runs $440, IDG News Service notes, but pricing for this model hasn’t been set. Nokia provided an interesting detail: they expect 2 to 4 Mbps of average speed from Xohm, with 10 Mbps peaks. Those numbers haven’t been talked about much pre-launch.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:35 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware | Comments (0)
March 26, 2008
Motorola Splits Handsets into Separate Firm
Motorola bows to shareholder pressure, splits firm:
The company will divide into two pieces in what Motorola hopes will be tax free to shareholders. One company will take the handset operations, which have languished; the other, enterprise, modem, and set-top boxes. This puts WiMax in the “good” company, the one that has a lot of potential to grow into a new international market, as well as continuing their sales of Canopy and fixed WiMax gear. The handset business would also encompass WiMax embedded into phones, but it’s likely a smaller part of Motorola’s WiMax portfolio.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Industry News, deals, financial | Comments (0)
March 25, 2008
Sprint, Clearwire May Form Venture with Comcast, Time Warner
Odd pairing of firms might bring WiMax to fruition:
The Wall Street Journal is reporting this evening that Comcast and Time Warner might fund a joint venture of Sprint Nextel and Clearwire that would roll out a national WiMax network. The Journal says the two telcos have been trying to raise $3b in recent months towards the deployment. Intel, Google, and a smaller cable operator would also contribute; Comcast and Intel would each invest $1b in the current proposal. The cable firms would gain both ownership and wholesale access for resale.
The article notes that cable firms have had a muddled strategy for wireless investment and service, even as they’ve spent money ($2b on licenses in 2006, with nothing deployed) and pursued partnerships.
What the Journal doesn’t note specifically is that wireless can often be used as an adjunct to obtain and supplement customers in areas where you can’t provide them primary service. Cable operators would prefer to use their existing plant to serve customers, but with WiMax, it’s possible they could still bring data, voice, and some video to markets within their territories but outside or at the limit of their plants.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:26 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: deals, financial | Comments (0)
March 24, 2008
Australian WiMax Operator Trashes WiMax Performance
First WiMax operator in Australia, Buzz Broadband, says tech vastly underdelivered:
I’m too far away from the action to know how much of this is a) accurate and b) accurately reported (no offense). At WiMax conference in Bangkok last week, CEO Garth Freeman apparently slammed distance, throughput, latency, and reliability. A year ago, he extolled his early deployment of Airspan equipment. Another Airspan customer in Australia cited in the article, finds great performance at distance. It may be that this fellow is generalizing from a specific case; his firm is now moving to “wireless DOCSIS” (cable-style access over 3.5 GHz) and TD-CDMA (over 1.9 GHz).
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:08 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: hype | Comments (1)
March 18, 2008
Intel Expects Third of Ultramobile PCs to Have Wi-Fi, WiMax
Intel’s Atom Centrino platform will push out a lot of ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) with WiMax side by side with Wi-Fi:
A third of the UMPCs will sport Wi-Fi and WiMax, while half will pair Wi-Fi with HSPA, the GSM 3G standard. It’s unclear what the sales of this new generations of devices will be; UMPCs haven’t lit up as a category so far. These new UMPCs use a chip designed specifically for the needs of this smarter-than-a-smartphone device; they’re due out later this year.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:27 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: launches | Comments (0)
March 17, 2008
Tata’s Indian Launch of WiMax Services Slated
Indian firm Tata plans 115 cities covered by WiMax by 2009:
The firm has 10 cities covered with Wi-Fi and 5,000 consumer and business customers. The company is awfully ambitious. They’ve reportedly invested $100m so far, with $500m planned over four years. They are looking for 50m subscribers, perhaps a reasonable number in a country with a highly inconsistent wired infrastructure and over 1b inhabitants. So far, only 3.2m households subscribe to broadband; business numbers weren’t noted.
I have seen a lot of ambitious announcements over the years, and very very few of them turn into deployments of any real scale, or any deployment at all. The money committed so far is serious, however, and Tata could leverage their network into a real boost for the entire country, where cell phones are ubiquitous because they leverage services that aren’t available with fixed computers.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:41 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: international, launch plans | Comments (0)
February 14, 2008
WiMax Adds 700 MHz Profile
Key addition by WiMax will make it possible for 700 MHz licenseholders to deploy WiMax: There’s been some debate over what kind of radio technology could be deployed in 700 MHz; Alan Andrews wrote up his analysis, and found that few specs that are deployed or in the process work for the amount of spectrum involved. That’s changed as of yesterday, with the WiMax Forum announcing a plan to create a roadmap—yes, that’s not precisely the same as having a roadmap—for a 700 MHz WiMax profile.
Having a profile means that manufacturers can work to a common spec, chipmakers can develop around a single set of ideas, and devices can be certified as compliant, which allows operators to purchase gear without having to engage in their own extensive and expensive testing. (They’ll still test, but this lowers the bar considerably, as they can examine networks that are already built if they arrive late to the party.)
I imagine this will take a couple years to reach full fruition, which is the timeline for real deployment in 700 MHz in the U.S., too.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:15 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 700 MHz, future technologies | Comments (1)