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Sprinting towards a WiMAX future

CTO outlines future of WiMAX in the USA

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Sprint Nextel is on schedule to launch its WiMAX service at the end of April, but won't be subsidising devices or requiring long-term contracts.

Chief technology office Barry West, speaking at CES in Las Vegas this week, rejected a direct device subsidy. But he did moot the idea of incorporating WiMAX access into the cost of the device, in much the same way that Amazon's Kindle doesn't require the user to have a mobile phone contract, but uses the mobile network for updates.

West suggested that around ten WiMAX devices will be available when the (unfortunately-named) service is launched, and that Sprint would limit itself to selling data cards for laptop access, any other kit users want will have to come through normal retain channels.

Some devices, like Nokia's tablet, will be generic internet-access devices - but more interesting is the idea of WiMAX-equipped cameras or electronic books. Barry referred to a Korean company (unnamed) which will be selling a WiMAX-enabled games console in early 2009.

Sprint Nextel will certainly be hoping that a wide range of applications are found for the service - having announced they'll be spending $5bn on the infrastructure they're going to have to make that back somehow. The service will launch in April, starting out in Baltimore, Washington and Chicago, so we'll have to wait until then to find out what they'll be charging and how many people actually want to use it. ®

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