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Sprint launches WiMAX in crab land

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Sprint has officially launched its WiMAX broadband wireless network in Baltimore - the crab capital of America - marking the technology's big city debut. And the company still insists on calling it Xohm.

With Xohm offering download speeds of 2 to 4 Mbps, the company sees this as the dawn of the 4G era.

"This is truly an historic day with the birth of a completely new Internet-based business model that alters the dynamics of the traditional telecom industry," reads a canned statement from Barry West, head of Sprint's Xohm business unit.

"Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom, and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility."

If you're in Baltimore or plan on visiting, you can now purchase a $60 Xohm laptop card or an $80 fixed home modem directly from Sprint or area retailers. A network day pass will run you $10. Home net service is $25 a month (at least for now; six months down the road, this will jump to $35). And mobile service is $30 a month.

The Baltimore launch will be followed, at some point, by launches in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

Xohm's is the country's first commercial WiMAX network for mobile use, but other companies - including the Kirkland, Washington-based start-up Clearwire - already offer fixed home WiMAX. In May, Sprint and Clearwire announced the creation of a new company - also known as Clearwire - that will combine their respective networks.

Sprint and Clearwire first agreed to link their networks back in July of 2007. But the agreement fell apart just four months later. Then Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Intel arrived with $3.2bn in funding.

Sprint says the deal should close in the fourth quarter. ®

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