Sprint positions WiMAX as primary wide area network for enterprises

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has been working in the enterprise space for some time, but this week the operator officially announced an enterprise-targeted wide area network based on WiMAX that offers connectivity to the Sprint Global MPLS network.

For some time, Sprint has been offering WiMAX as a back-up solution for enterprises when their primary WANs go down. But now the carrier is offering its WiMAX network as a primary line; Sprint is backing its WiMAX WAN service with a 99.95 percent availability service-level agreement, and offering fast deployment compared with wired solutions. Sprint touts average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps in the 71 markets where WiMAX is available.

Sprint sees a big opportunity to replace fixed lines at large and medium-sized businesses; there's not a lot of competition in that market.

In its release announcing the service, Sprint highlighted Explorer Pipeline, an operator of a 1,900-mile long fuel pipeline that travels from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest, as an early adopter of the WAN service at Explorer Pipeline's storage facility in Houston. The company estimates it saved $4,500 per year over a T-1 just at that site using Sprint's service. The company is expanding the solution to other sites.

Sprint offers WiMAX service on a wholesale basis from Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which is 50-percent owned by Sprint. The advantage Sprint has with a WiMAX WAN offering is that Clearwire holds about 160 megahertz of spectrum in its major markets, which translates into significant capacity advantages. Clearwire has indicated in the past that the average subscriber uses 7 GB of data per month.

For more:
- see this release

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