The CTIA show begins today in Orlando, Florida. Several of my colleagues are there. I'm "there" too, but virtually.
One of the underlying memes of this year's show is a substiantially upgraded profile for WiMax services and products-both at the carrier and the handset level. WiMax is the solution which can help provide fast mobile broadband services, as well as serve as a metro-wide bridge for WiFi hotspots and in some cases, a "last-mile" alternative to cable and DSL.
Colleague Marguerite Reardon notes that Motorola, Samsung and Nokia, as well as Intel, are expected to have WiMax products available this year. Some of these offerings will be shown at WiMax. There's already quite a buzz around Samsung's WiMax-ready gear, which includes a handset, ultra-mobile PC and a new USB dongle that offers wireless broadband for laptops.
As Marguerite notes, SprintNextel said it had chosen Samsung to develop PC cards for its WiMax network. One card will WiMax-only connectivity, while the other version will offer WiMax connectivity as well as access to Sprint's third-generation EV-DO network. And a company called ZTE will supply PC cards and modem solutions based on the IEEE's 802.16e standard. Let's not also forget ZyXEL Communications of Anaheim, Calif., will also supply modem products.
Also at the show, SprintNextel revealed several cities in which it would be working with equipment partners to roll out its WiMax network.
Here's who Sprint is partnering with, and where:
Motorola- Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Minneapolis, as well as Grand Rapids, Mich.
Samsung- Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Providence, R.I.
Nokia- will develop Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Seattle and Portland, Ore.
Hmm. I wonder how these offerings will affect Sprint's cellular service. Will current cell subscribers find their cancellation fees waived if they opt for Sprint's new WiMax service?