Those hoping for a nationwide WiMax network may get some good news next week: Sprint’s Xohm service might get some big-name backers and a new business plan.
According to rumor, Sprint is in talks with a number of companies on the future of Xohm. BusinessWeek is reporting that the proposal on the table is for the telecom to separate the WiMax service as a separate business, and then merge it with Clearwire, a much smaller wireless service provider.
Google and Comcast will then become major investors in the new company, to the tune of a $1 billion each, and so will Time Warner and Brighthouse Networks, to a lesser extent. Intel has already put $2 billion into Clearwire, and may add more.
This deal would allow the cable providers to offer customers both wired and wireless data access, while Intel wants to sell WiMax equipment. Google wants customers to be able to access the Web, and its advertising service, everywhere they go.
Sprint is having financial problems, and these partnerships are necessary to raise the money needed to deploy a nationwide WiMax network, which Sprint says will cost about $5 billion. This will provide customers with 4G wireless access at data transfer speeds much higher than current 3G networks.
The negotiations for this huge deal are still going on, and if they pan out it will be announced at the CTIA tradeshow, which starts April 1.
Xohm vs. Verizon and AT&T
There is a race on to provide the next generation of wireless data access in the United States. The possible coalition backing the Xohm WiMax service is is shaping up to be one participant, but it’s hardly alone.
Both AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to implement a network using the rival 4G standard LTE. However, both are just beginning the process of putting this into place. For example, Verizon doesn’t expect to even begin limited testing until later this year.
This gives any group backing Xohm an advantage, as it’s already in testing, and Sprint hopes to have it available nationwide before the end of this year.
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