Sprint may launch a WiMAX Android handset in 2010

Sprint Nextel may launch a WiMAX capable tri-mode handset in early 2010 running on Google's Android platform, though it is not entirely confirmed that Android will be the OS for the phone.

The phone is expected to run on CDMA, WiMAX and WiFi, though the form factor of the handset is "still being finalized," according to Scott Lane, the director of sales and marketing for Sprint's 4G unit, who gave an interview to ComputerWorld.com.

Lane said the device will likely have WiFi and "could be based on Android" partly because Sprint has a "close relationship with Google," though he said he could not commit to Android being the device's platform as there are other operating systems that could have the processing power to handle WiMAX. The device will operate over Clearwire's "Clear" network of services and would be the first standalone handset running on WiMAX.  

Sprint will also launch new WiMAX related products under its Sprint 4G brand. Sprint will launch a WiMAX-only modem for users who will only be operating in WiMAX territory, and will be will be less expensive than Sprint's current dual-mode 3G/4G modem, which sells for $149 and requires an $80 monthly subscription. Sprint will also debut two WiMAX modems by the end of the year, one for home users and another for business users with higher speeds close to that of a T1 line, Lane said.

Sprint first announced in December that it would be launching mobile WiMAX products and services as an MVNO under Clearwire. Sprint has a 51 percent stake in the new Clearwire, which was formed at the end of 2008 after Sprint merged its WiMAX assets with Clearwire and the company received $3.2 billion in capital from Intel, Google, Comcast and others.

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