We reported the rumor early yesterday, and now Sprint has made its WiMAX plans official: The carrier has announced a partnership with Intel, Motorola and Samsung for a next-gen network it says will be four times faster than existing cellular networks. The upgrade will cost an estimated $2.5 billion to $3 billion, according to the carrier, and could reach an estimated 100 million people by 2008. Sprint CEO Gary Forsee sat down with Forbes to discuss the company's watershed move:
- On making the 4G announcement so soon: "We have a leadership in data... It is our distinction and will be ours over time in the marketplace... We're talking about taking the desktop--taking the applications that have only been economically available in fixed networks--and taking those mobile."
- On connectivity beyond the phone: "It's about thinking about a chipset in a camera, a video recorder, a set-top box or a high-performance laptop, and also things we haven't thought about before. We'll take this into places that the current paradigm doesn't allow because of the cost and the bandwidth."
While much of the interview is fluffy, it's interesting to hear the carrier's positioning statements. Forsee harps on the consumer electronics angle of the WiMAX play more than anything else, while downplaying the timing of the announcement (right before the AWS spectrum auction begins and a few days after a dismal Q2 earnings report.) Other reports say Sprint didn't choose Qualcomm/Flarion's Flash-OFDM technology because it was not conducive to the carrier's spectrum, while IPWireless' technology couldn't provide a suitable ecosystem, and 3G LTE and HSxPA technologies couldn't be brought to market quickly enough.