Sprint makes $3bn WiMax play

Drafts in Intel, Motorola and Samsung as cheerleaders

Sprint Nextel has cosied up with Intel, Samsung and Motorola as it prepares to rollout what it says will be first nationwide WiMax 4G network.

The US telco will put the wireless broadband network together across its 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which it says will reach around 85 per cent of households in the top 100 US market.

It expects to invest $1bn in the network next year and to pump in another 1.5 to $2bn the following year.

Trial markets should be up and running by the end of next year, with 100m reached in 2008.

The tie-ups with Intel, Samsung and Motorol are designed to ensure a steady supply of WiMax chipsets, devices and infrastructure. After all, what if you designed a WiMax network, and nobody came? Samsung has been named the primary infrastructure supplier.

At the same time, the tie-ups will ensure multimode devices that will be able to run on the WiMax network, and Sprint’s current network.

While WiMax zealots will be praising the move, others were not so sure. Moody’s promptly cut its rating on Sprint Nextel, partly as the result of the rather large investment commitment the new network will require. ®

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