Sprint, Motorola Make Splash in Orlando

Sprint Nextel said today it plans to reach 100 million Americans by the end of next year with its wireless broadband network. The mobile carrier plans to debut its service by the end of this year and eventually build it out in 19 markets.

The news came amid a raft of WiMAX-related announcements on the first day of the CTIA Wireless 2007 show in Orlando, including Motorola’s equity investment in GoTV Networks, a mobile television provider, and a Nortel venture to create a hybrid satellite-terrestrial network.

“Sprint has taken a leadership role in the WiMAX network development arena and is working with other technology leaders to quickly bring advanced mobile broadband services to reality,” Barry West, president of 4G Mobile Broadband for Sprint, said in a statement.

The Sprint WiMAX network will use the company’s 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which
Cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets.

Sprint chose Samsung to develop PC cards in both single WiMAX use and dual CDMA mode. Sprint also selected China’s ZTE Corp. to supply multiple 802.16 devices including PC cards in express and USB forms.

To help expedite the national rollout of its network Sprint said it is launching a new “WiMAX Device and Chipset Ecosystem” to facilitate communications between chip makers and device makers. Spring said the initiative is designed to guide manufacturers on required specifications, features, functionality and product design.

According to Sprint, Motorola will develop Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Minneapolis; Samsung will develop Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence and Washington, D.C.; and Nokia will develop Austin, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Seattle.

“Recent developments attest to the viability of our strategy, as more companies align with our vision and apply their expertise to the momentum building behind Sprint WiMax,” West said.

Motorola’s undisclosed investment in GoTV networks gives an additional boost to the first made-for-mobile television network and studio group. Using an on-demand model to deliver content to headsets and other mobile devices, GoTV already has content deals with Cingular, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Helio and Boost Mobile.

“As demand for mobile television grows, Motorola is teaming up with…companies like GoTV to deliver the next-generation of ‘must-have’ services to our handsets,” Reese Schroeder, managing director of Motorola Ventures, said in a statement.

The satellite-terrestrial network proposed by Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) and Nortel will initially feature wireless voice, data and Web access, file sharing and VoIP connectivity using residential gateway devices and PC cards.

Nortel equipment used in the Reston, Va., trial will include WiMAX base stations and terminals, ancillary cell site gear, an IP core network, signaling equipment, authentication servers, media gateways, optical transport and IMS core elements. In addition, Nortel will provide design, network management and maintenance services.

“The rapid blurring of boundaries between telecom, broadcast and broadband is challenging the limits of traditional communications networks and giving bold new players like MSV a chance to get in on the game,” Peter MacKinnon, general manager of WiMAX, Nortel, said in a statement.

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