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Sprint in WiMAX 'Pole Position' - InternetNews.
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Sprint in WiMAX 'Pole Position'

CHICAGO -- WiMAX is no pipe dream. For years vendors and politicians have said it was coming.

Now we know exactly when.

In a packed session here at NXTcomm Sprint-Nextel CTO Barry West outlined his company's WiMAX deployments and the reasons why he is confident it will win the battle for 4G wireless supremacy against all comers. Even the iPhone.

"We will have 100 million covered by the end of 2008 and be in 35 markets," West declared. "We're soft launching in Washington and Chicago in December and launching commercially in April of 2008."

West dismissed rumors that Sprint's WiMAX build out, first begun in August 2006, wasn't going well.

"It's challenging, and despite all the rumors we're making fantastic progress," West said. He noted a Yankee Group data point that shows that WiMAX is set to account for over $24 billion in service revenues by 2012.

West argued that the killer app for 4G Wireless is broadband Internet, which today means DSL and cable modem since Wi-Fi hotspots don't offer total coverage. WiMAX changes the equation, and with chipsets in every notebook, a real mobile broadband economy can emerge.

"Today eyeballs get to the Web over DSL and cable," West said. "When we have a real WiMAX network it will be over that network."

West went on to boast that Sprint-Nextel will be able to deliver a tenfold improvement in price per bit on WiMAX against other wireless technologies.

WiMAX will also change the subscriber model of how carriers view customers. The device is the customer in the traditional wireless market, said West. When WiMAX is embedded in multiple devices it changes the paradigm as operators will identify the customer as opposed to the device.

West explained that users will be able to get subscriptions per device or a group of devices. Sprint-Nextel will also offer multiple layers of throughput so that users can access and pay for the speed they need.

In response to a question from the audience about how the iPhone might impact Sprint-Nextel, West responded that he thinks that it will be a great success, though it's missing something.

"When they put WiMAX in the iPhone, it will be a really fantastic product."

The iPhone will be available initially only on the AT&T network. West said though he wasn't familiar with the terms of the AT&T deal, he would welcome similar devices on the Sprint-Nextel WiMAX network.

West also weighed in on other 4G wireless technologies, such as LTE and UMB.

"WiMAX is at least three years ahead of LTE," West said. "WiMAX has the time-to-market advantage, and Sprint has the best spectrum position. I think we're in the pole position, and I'll be damned if we lose that position."