Can WiMAX devices come together in time for Sprint's commercial launch?

I'm wondering if the WiMAX device market will come together by the time Sprint launches commercial WiMAX in Baltimore in September, followed by other commercial deployments in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Intel has revealed that the long-anticipated Centrino 2 mobile platform that it is introducing today won't include the WiFi (802.11n)/WiMAX module that has been long promised. Instead, that feature will ship later this year, an Intel spokeswoman said. No word on the reason for the delay. Will it ship in time to be incorporated in laptops for Sprint's commercial launches?

And where are some of the key vendor products Sprint, which is merging with Clearwire later this year, expects to launch on its network? Nokia's enhanced version of the N810, the first standalone WiMAX handheld, has yet to be certified by the WiMAX Forum, which in June announced certification for the 2.5 GHz band, the band Sprint and Clearwire operate in. ZTE, which is supplying USB WiMAX modems for Sprint's launch, hasn't had its products certified yet either. Xohm President Barry West said in June that the devices available at commercial launch will include a Samsung card, a ZyXEL modem, a ZTE USB dongle and the Nokia N810 Internet tablet along with WiMAX embedded laptops.

So far the Forum has certified subscriber modules from Airspan, Beceem, Intel, Samsung, Sequans and ZyXel. ZTE is imbedding Beceem modules while Nokia is expected to embed Intel modules. It could be that most of these players were waiting for their subscriber module partners to be certified. But you have to wonder if they now have enough time to obtain certification from the Forum for their devices for Sprint's September's launch, especially since the Forum's certification process is so new. Maybe Sprint isn't going to wait for WiMAX Forum certification. It said in June that a number of devices were moving through its own testing labs, although those tests are usually different from what a standardization body certifies. One thing is for sure: West has been adamant about the fact that a lack of devices certainly wouldn't be a problem at commercial launch.

The last thing the company needs is a launch delay to give more fodder to the WiMAX naysayers.--Lynnette

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