Sprint Puts WiMAX to The Test in Baltimore

Service provider Sprint is rolling the dice on WiMAX, a new wireless technology that has received much hype but little practical application in the U.S. telecom market. The company has launched a 4G WiMAX network in Baltimore.

The technology is still considered under development, and the Sprint deployment could determine if WiMAX is ready for prime time. The commercial viability for WiMAX is also uncertain. It offers much faster and broader wireless access than Wi-Fi, but will customers comfortable with their current networks want to migrate to a new standard and new telephone handsets? (They'd also need new networking cards for PCs, notebooks and PDAs? There's a big debate in the telecom sector about whether WiMAX, even if it is commercially and technically successful, will replace or merely supplement existing Wi-Fi networks.

Sprint will use WiMAX to complement existing data services in the Baltimore market and is clearly hoping customers will be attracted to the greater speed and wider coverage area. Sprint is playing the bold pioneer in this game, but could wind uo in a sweet spot if analyst predictions of widespread WiMAX adoption during the next three years holds true.

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