Sprint WiMAX approach emerges

Sprint plans to launch its WiMAX service in Chicago and Washington, D.C., in early 2008, and we now have an inkling as to the speed and cost of the service. A Sprint executive used this year's CES to intimate to reporters that users should expect speeds around 2-4 Mbps for an estimated $55 a month. The company will allow consumers to connect several devices to the WiMAX network (see more below). It also appears that Sprint will embrace an open source model, similar to connections such as home broadband lines. Adopting an approach different from some cellular providers, the executive said that there will be no limits on content options. Atish Gude, senior vice president of mobile broadband operations at Sprint, said the carrier has not yet decided whether to start out the service open or gradually open it up. There is another issue: Carrier-specific offerings would make more sense on some hardware platforms, such as gaming devices without keyboards, he said.

Sprint's WiMAX approach is being closely watched because it is the first major carrier to roll out WiMAX nationally. The price of $55 quoted above consists of broadband Internet access priced at $35 to $40 per month, and a premium for mobility of $10 to $15. Sprint has not yet worked out exactly how to price the service, but Gude indicated that there would be three tiers of service, including "unlimited" services (though not really unlimited, because they would have an ultimate monthly limit, as 3G data services do today). One subscription would cover several devices, so a family could have one account and add and remove devices. The cost would go up with each added device, Gude said.

For more on Sprint's WiMAX plans:
- see Stephen Lawson's InfoWorld report
- Motorola's press release
- and this DSL Reports story

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