Sprint: WiMAX to launch in DC, Chicago first

As we noted earlier, Sprint said that Nokia would be the last major partner it announces for its WiMAX network buildout, and its first WiMAX launch sites will take place in Washington, DC and Chicago. Sprint exec Bin Shen also announced that Nokia would be given its own market to demonstrate its WiMAX technological expertise and equipment. Sprint also has deals with Motorola and Samsung for the project. Shen pointed to Nokia's Internet Tablet device as the type of handset Sprint expects will be popular in the year's ahead. The carrier and MobiTV are demonstrating streaming television through a WiMAX demo while at CES this week.

In other Sprint news, Leap Wireless' shares have fallen after The Street predicted a new pricing scheme from Sprint may have a serious impact on Leap's "all-you-can-eat" packages. Sprint is set to launch a trial of unlimited local calling through its Boost Mobile brand for a set monthly payment--if the price undercuts Leap's, the analysts believe the smaller carrier could lose some subscribers as a result.

While Sprint may be taking this opportunity to box out Leap, a report in The Wall Street Journal suggests that Sprint's rivals are all focused on stealing a bit of its market share. Analysts predict the churn will continue through Q1 and possibly beyond, however Sprint says 2007 will see positive subscriber growth.

For more on Sprint:
- read this Wireless Week article about WiMAX plans
- see this BusinessWeek article about Leap vs. Sprint
- and check out this WSJ article about Sprint vs. everyone else (sub. req.)