‘Sprint 4G’ on tap: CDMA/WiMAX modems to hit store shelves this year: Nation’s No. 3 carrier to be an MVNO of Clearwire

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Goodbye Xohm, hello Sprint 4G.
Just over a year after inventing a new word for its WiMAX plans, Sprint Nextel Corp. has decided on a name that is easier on the tongue, and eyes, for its next-generation network aspirations.
Sprint Nextel will be serving up its own mobile WiMAX products and services, branded “Sprint 4G,” in its retail stores, the carrier said. And the first dual-mode, CDMA/mobile WiMAX modems will be commercially available as early as the end of this year. The move marks the end of the Xohm brand, which the carrier launched in August, 2007.
Sprint Nextel is offering the mobile WiMAX services under a mobile virtual network operator agreement with the new Clearwire, which recently closed on its formation that included the WiMAX assets of Sprint Nextel and the “old” Clearwire. Sprint Nextel controls 51% of the new Clearwire venture.
The first dual-mode, CDMA/mobile WiMAX modem under the Sprint 4G brand will be commercially available in Baltimore by the end of the year, said Melinda Tiemeyer, spokeswoman for Sprint Nextel. The carrier launched mobile WiMAX services in Baltimore in September under the carrier’s now-shuttered Xohm brand; the launch preceded the closing last week of Sprint Nextel’s mobile WiMAX joint venture with Clearwire.
Sprint Nextel’s “4G” portfolio eventually will include handsets and modems, Tiemeyer said. Further, she said Sprint 4G offerings will include products that can switch between the carrier’s established CDMA network and the mobile WiMAX network Clearwire is building throughout the country. The current Xohm offerings in Baltimore include a desktop modem, an ExpressCard modem and a USB card modem. All of the current devices are mobile WiMAX-only.

‘Clear’wire
Clearwire representatives were not immediately available to comment on the carrier’s planned mobile WiMAX devices. Last week, Clearwire announced it will offer mobile WiMAX services under the new “Clear” brand, which will replace Sprint Nextel’s Xohm service name. Clearwire also announced its accompanying marketing tagline, “Let’s Be Clear.” The service will run on the same mobile WiMAX network as Sprint 4G, with both services possibly being offered in the same markets.
Clearwire is also expected to dip into the MVNO space by reselling traditional cellular services using Sprint Nextel’s CDMA network. Clearwire also offers Voice over Internet Protocol voice service in some of its current pre-WiMAX service areas, but has not commented on whether it would expand the VoIP offering to its mobile WiMAX markets.
Partners contributing the more than $3 billion to the new Clearwire mobile WiMAX buildout are Comcast Corp., Intel Corp. through Intel Capital, Time Warner Cable Inc., Google Inc. and Bright House Networks. As part of their investment, the companies have the option of offering both mobile WiMAX and traditional cellular service using Sprint Nextel’s CDMA network under an MVNO arrangement. Clearwire also said it will receive an additional investment of $10 million from Trilogy Equity Partners in the coming months.
Article updated Dec. 5 to include additional information.

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