Sprint: 2010 is the year of 4G (WiMAX that is)

Sprint Nextel saw its customers continue to defect and a drop in revenue during the fourth quarter, but CEO Dan Hesse told analysts he was confident that 2010 will be the year of 4G, what the company calls its WiMAX offering.

"It's going to be the year that we're the only game in town and it's a combination of we need to get more markets turned up and we need to get a better device lineup and then we think we can really start to show some sizable progress," Hesse said. "It just takes awhile to build out a 4G network so we would expect that you would see more [points of presence] being expanded in 2011 and then 2012 so this would be a continuous process like so many generations are."

Sprint is the primary investor in Clearwire, which is the one building out the WiMAX network. The network today is built out in a handful of major cities, such as Baltimore, Chicago, Portland and Atlanta, and now covers 30 million people. Clearwire, with $920 million in new funding in hand, plans to pick up the pace, deploying services in Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. metro areas. The network is expected to cover 120 million people by the end of 2010.

However, one of the sticking points to rapid adoption this year is a lack of compelling devices. Last month, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow reiterated his company's commitment to launching a dual-mode 3G/WiMAX smartphone in the second half of the year and hinted that it may run Google's Android platform. The device would access Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network but would also be able to make voice calls over Sprint's CDMA network; Sprint holds a majority stake in Clearwire

Hesse said its Clearwire investment partners, which include Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House, will likely play important roles in promoting bundles using WiMAX.

Sprint lost a net 148,000 subscribers and its revenue dropped from $8.43 billion to $7.87 billion.

For more:
- see this InformationWeek article

Related articles:
Clearwire CEO promises WiMAX handsets by Christmas 2010
2010 Prediction No. 1: WiMAX takes off in the U.S.
Clearwire CEO hints at WiMAX Android smartphone