Sprint Nextel Leaning Toward Mobile WiMAX

— August 02, 2006

Signals Research said in a research note that its investigations suggest Sprint Nextel is leaning toward making an announcement that it will deploy mobile WiMAX in the 2.5GHz band. Technology stakeholders have been wringing their hands waiting for a decision from the country's largest holder of 2.5GHz spectrum. Sprint has been testing a number of technologies, including IP Wireless' TD-CDMA and Flash-OFDM.

The information comes as a surprise to Signals Research head Michael Thelander, who has been saying that Sprint would like stay away from mobile WiMAX primarily because the operator has stated its intention to to be closely aligned with major European operators who are a part of the Next Generation Mobile Networks initiative. Many NGMN operators are not pro mobile WiMAX.

If Sprint doesn't get cold feet about the decision, there are many unanswered questions surrounding such a deployment, including the size and timing of a deployment since equipment that encompasses the much-needed MIMO technology for the 2.5GHz band won't be available until at least the second half of 2007. Another unknown is when devices might be available that can support enhanced features. And which vendors will benefit? Will Sprint require a similar investment that Intel and Motorola gave to Clearwire, the country's second-largest 2.5GHz player that has now fully committed to mobile WiMAX? Thelander stressed that a decision isn't carved in stone so the potential for a delayed announcement is highly possible.

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