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WiMAX woes as Sprint dumps Clearwire

Never mind the finishing line, where's the start?

The clouds continue to gather over Sprint's WiMAX network.

In July, the American cellco agreed to combine its new-fangled wireless broadband play with a similar network from Clearwire Corp., but today, the two companies announced that the agreement has been ripped to shreds. If Sprint wants its network to reach a nationwide audience, it will have to foot the bill on its own. Or bring in another partner.

This is ominous cloud number three for Sprint WiMAX. It follows the resignation of Sprint CEO, Gary Forsee, the network's chief supporter, and the unfortunate decision to call the thing Xohm.

Sprint insists that Xohm will still go ahead - and that Clearwire will provide a helping hand.

"We are on track for soft launch late this year in the Chicago and Baltimore/Washington markets and commercial launch in 2008," is the word from Keith Cowan, Sprint's president of strategic planning and corporate initiatives. "In line with Sprint's mandate of improving the customers experience and simplifying our operations, we look forward to working with Clearwire on opportunities such as roaming and standards."

But it would seem that changes are afoot. According to a press release, Sprint is "reviewing its WiMAX business plans and outlook" and will "comment further on these topics early next year."

Of course, today's news causes problems for Clearwire as well. Its network is already up and running, offering service in 16 US states as well as parts of Europe and Mexico. ®

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