Sprint CEO admits WiMAX gamble didn't pay off
Great statements of the obvious
Dan Hesse has admitted that his company's gamble in investing in WiMAX hasn't paid off in providing Sprint with a first-mover advantage – even if it has turned out great for customers.
Sprint's CEO was interviewed by Walt Mossberg at the All Things Digital conference in San Francisco, as reported by PC World, and admitted that WiMAX technology failed to provide the 4G lead it was supposed to. He did argue, however, that the failure was down to Verizon's unexpectedly fast response in deploying LTE, to the good of consumers looking for faster wireless.
Sprint's Xohm network, which later got thrown into the Clearwire mix, had to use WiMAX, because the approved telecommunications standard – LTE – wasn't finished in time. Even when LTE was ready, it relied on separate frequencies for transmitting and receiving (Frequency Division Duplex) – and only very recently managed to do both over one band (Time Division Duplex) as WiMAX always has.
That should have given WiMAX networks a good couple of years' advantage in getting to market, which is what Sprint was betting on, but things are never quite that simple. Intel backed WiMAX very heavily, but Nokia Siemens and the rest of the mobile infrastructure suppliers have greater patent holdings in LTE, and (by happy coincidence) that's the technology the big mobe network operators around the world backed.
Without network operator backing, confidence in WiMAX fell, and in Europe various legal shenanigans delayed the release of radio spectrum that WiMAX operators might have wanted, at least until the LTE TDD standard was finalised – again denying WiMAX the economy of scale it needed.
These days it is recognised that LTE will triumph, with WiMAX headed for point-to-point connections and fixed wireless. Even Sprint has been working out how to migrate to LTE, ideally in the same spectrum – though in his interview Dan Hesse also refers to cheaper wireless being dependent on what Walt Mossberg called "taking away the spectrum that the elderly use to watch their TV"...
Clearwire might have been the first 4G network in America, but to get there it was forced to adopt a dead-end technology, and is still suffering for that decision. ®
WiMax / Clearwire SUCKS (and I'd like to take $10 a month out of Dan Hesse's a$$).
As a "relatively" happy owner of an HTC EVO 4G on the Sprint network, I think it is fair for me to comment on the value of WiMax, Clearwire, etc to me... and that value is NONE. ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, NADA.... <insert valueless descriptor here> I'm getting hit with a $10 monthly sucker tax for no return.
Oh and I doubt that anyone at Sprint would honestly question that statement knowing the phone I'm using and knowing Sprint's (Clearwire's) 4G "network." (Calling it a network is almost disingenuous).
1) Try and find actual coverage (and I live in a major city that is supposed to have really good coverage).
2) If you are actually getting 4G signal, you better be REALLY close to the tower / have a high strength signal or the network speed drops off like a rock. (If I'm a tick off of full strength on 4G, I'm better served to turn it off and use 3G if I want anything approaching reliably consistent bandwidth).
3) Bye Bye Battery - The EVO is not blessed with great battery capacity/life to begin with, but connect it to a 4G network and you can actually watch the battery meter drain down. (I'm really not joking about this).
4) Half of the Sprint applications don't even operate over 4G?!?!? WTF???? So I wanted to use Sprint's TV application a couple of months ago, but couldn't get it to operate. I call tech support because I know I should have access to it. I'm told to turn off 4G so that I can use it because they don't operate it over 4G - only their 3G network. WTF??? Video is the kind of application that 4G was intended for and you don't run your TV programs over it?
Hey Dan, you've been getting $10 a month out of a whole bunch of users who get nothing from your WiMax network - so quit your freaking whining. You don't deserve a first-mover advantage if this is the best you could make out of WiMax.
Not WiMax's fault
Don't blame the technology, Sprint, blame yourselves.
If Sprint hadn't made the utterly brain-dead decision to buy Nextel (Alltel or even US Cellular would have been a much better choice) and lost a huge number of subscribers as a result, they would've had enough money to have WiMax rolled out in all major markets by late 2009. The technology was ready, but Sprint wasn't.
It didn't pay off because they are greedy idiots
Basically, they (Clear.com) want to sell crappy service for the same price a cable. Now Clearwire.com almost has it right, in that they do have a $25/mo 6Mbps service. But it is limited to iOS devices. What idiot put that restriction on that deal clearly flunked out of business school.
Anyone who comes along and offers internet access, be it WiMax, wired, or whatever, in the "couple of Mbps" range in the $20-$25/mo price point, will eat everyone else's lunch. I, and most people I know, don't have any use for our cable's 15Mbps speed at the $50/mo or higher price point, and would gladly drop to 2-3Mbps if we only needed to pay $20/mo.