With WiMax roll-out, the face of wireless is changing

The future of wireless is getting closer, as Sprint Nextel says it's ready to start offering WiMax-based services in two test markets by the end of the year, TopTechNews reports. Under the name of Xohm, Sprint will offer wireless Internet service in Baltimore/Washington and Chicago, with commercial services slated to begin in the first half of 2008.

The future of wireless is getting closer, as Sprint Nextel says it's ready to start offering WiMax-based services in two test markets by the end of the year, TopTechNews reports. Under the name of Xohm, Sprint will offer wireless Internet service in Baltimore/Washington and Chicago, with commercial services slated to begin in the first half of 2008.

"The demos were really impressive in the way that they showed how life on the mobile Internet would be," said Sprint Nextel CTO Barry West during this week's Sprint Ahead Technology Summit. ... The throughput was very impressive and lived up to its promise."

WiMax networks are five times faster than 3G cellular technology but the potential goes well beyond mobile phones.

"We have people talking about WiMax for all sorts of things, not just phones," noted Gartner research director Carolina Milanesi. "It will take a while for the market to show growth, but the potential is there and we will be seeing vendors showing more WiMax products going forward."

The technology might even change the economics of municipal Wi-Fi, which has been in retreat since EarthLink announced it would require cities to pay substantial fees as anchor tenants on the networks.

Sprint Nextel is partnering with Clearwire to try to reach 100 million customers by the end of 2008. Getting beyond that before the end of the decade, Sprint will invest about $2.5 billion in capital by the end of 2008 and another $2.5 billion by year-end 2010.