Sprint moving forward with WiMAX client adapters

Sprint-Nextel has been working hard deploying a nationwide mobile WiMAX system in many cities within the U.S. According to Sprint, this WiMAX network will ultimately reach 100 million people across the country by the end of 2008. Sprint-Nextel has been working hard deploying a nationwide mobile WiMAX system in many cities within the U.S. According to Sprint, this WiMAX network will ultimately reach 100 million people across the country by the end of 2008. This is all possible because Sprint has an extensive holding of 2.5GHz spectrum, which covers a very large percentage (roughly 85 percent) of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets.

For enabling user access to this network, Sprint is pushing forward with the development of WiMAX client adapters. Sprint has chosen three manufacturers. Samsung will offer PC cards in both single WiMAX mode and dual CDMA 1xEVDO/WiMAX mode. An advantage of the dual mode version is that users can make use of WiMAX where the initial WiMAX networks are available, and then use CDMA in other areas. This would be a good choice for travelers, at least for the foreseeable future. In addition to Samsung, Sprint selected ZTE Corporation and ZyXEL for developing PC cards and modem products.

I’m a bit surprised that the initial announcements from Sprint regarding WiMAX client adapters don’t include Wi-Fi. Maybe an announcement for this may come at a later date? In my opinion, even after the Sprint WiMAX network is in place, Sprint users will still want access to Wi-Fi networks. Of course Sprint is focused on WiMAX now, but a Sprint WiMAX/ Wi-Fi PC card would come in handy when buried inside a hotel or conference center where WiMAX and EVDO signals are no where to be found. Sprint has a fairly large existing Wi-Fi network inside hotels and airports. With a WiMAX/Wi-Fi card, Sprint subscribers could presumably roam more easily between WiMAX and Wi-Fi. I imagine that Sprint users will be able to make use of non-Sprint WiMAX/Wi-Fi adapters, but based on my experiences in the Wi-Fi world, you often lose performance and interoperability in this case.

– – – – –

Jim Geier provides independent consulting services to municipalities deploying wireless networks and is Principal Consultant of Civitium (www.civitium.com).