WiMAX builds momentum, hits PR snag

WiMAX was all the rage in 2007, that is until Sprint Nextel fell on hard times and ended its buildout partnership with Clearwire. Sprint has been the chief evangelist of of mobile WiMAX, setting the pace for development and pushing interoperability. Today, speculation remains as to whether Sprint will spin the business off entirely or severely curtail its nationwide rollout. That is for newly appointed CEO Dan Hesse to decide. One thing is for sure, WiMAX's chief evangelist, Barry West, head of Sprint's WiMAX initiative, is eerily quiet these days. This summer he banged the drum around open access and the fact that WiMAX will usher in a new paradigm shift for the wireless industry. But those working with Sprint say West and team are moving at full speed despite the uncertainty surrounding the business.

Meanwhile, vendors say WiMAX doesn't need Sprint to build momentum and gain economies of scale as several countries around the world auction spectrum and operators begin detailing their intentions to deploy the technology. For instance, Motorola has 15 commercial contracts globally and 44 active trials. According to Fred Wright, senior vice president with Motorola, the vendor has already shipped tens of thousands of CPE units and more than 2,000 base stations.

The WiMAX Forum yesterday announced the opening of its first certification lab for WiMAX equipment. The forum is expected hundreds of devices to go through certification in 2008.

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