Sprint Picks Mobile WiMax for 4G Network

The idea of mobile broadband is a powerful one, offering streaming data and media capabilities anywhere you go with bandwidth that makes downloading data, video, music, and other content feasible in the real world. Promises have been many, but technology deployment in the U.S. has been uneven and reliability…well, we’re sure customer support reps at the major wireless players can talk about that at length.

Now mobile network operator Sprint has announced it plans to deploy Mobile WiMax technology to 85 percent of the top 200 U.S. markets by 2008. Although the company has already depployed EV-DO wireless broadband—and plans to upgrade that technology this year—WiMax would represent a so-called “4G” wireless network, offering greater bandwidth, lower costs, and better reliability than existing “3G” solutions.

The WiMax rollout will cost Sprint an estimated one to four billion dollars; the company’s business model is to position the 4G network as a data-centric conduit for high-quality media which can only be delivered via WiMax bandwidth: Sprint wants to present itself as a best-of-class solution both to consumers and media companies.

“None of us today can envision our lives without wireless connectivity or the Internet,” said Gary Forsee, Sprint Nextel’s president and CEO in a statement. “Sprint Nextel is taking a major step forward by linking the incredible potential of these two cornerstones of daily communications. We’ll give customers the power to harness business information and personal entertainment easily and inexpensively—and in ways that they will one day wonder how they lived without.”

Sprint is partnering with Motorola, Samsung, and Intel to deploy services, develop WiMax products, and spur market adoption of WiMax technology. Motorola and Samsung also plan to support Sprint’s existing E-DO technology via multimode devices which support both 3G and 4G networks.

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