Sprint XOHM WiMAX Service Finally Launches

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Almost a year after it was first demonstrated publicly, Sprint’s XOHM WiMAX service is finally commercially available… at least in one city.

The company formally began service today in the Baltimore metro area, with coverage extending from Waverly to Fairfield, and pockets as far out as Georgetown and Bel Air North.

Expansion into additional cities is planned: Chicago and Washington D.C. are listed as having coverage “soon;” Dallas, Fort Worth, Boston, Providence, and Philadelphia are described on the company’s website as “in the works.”

Delayed But Not Canceled

The new service had originally been planned for a launch earlier this year, but the merger of Sprint’s WiMAX unit with Clearwire, and rumored technical hurdles, delayed its availability despite considerable buzz surrounding WiMAX equipped devices at the time.

Evidently pushing back against the perception that the network was lagging and likely to be axed due to investor pressure, Sprint emphasized in its press materials that from selection to live availability took two years, a relatively short period for an entirely new wireless standard. It also restating that Intel, Samsung, and Motorola are committed to the venture with them.

More Devices Coming Soon

Currently, XOHM users can choose between an aircard for laptop computers, and a home gateway modem. Prices are unsubsidized, and purchasing a new device requires no contract. In fact, the service is even offered in 1-day increments, albeit for a price of $10 a day that would only be feasible for short-term business travelers.

More realistically, home users will pay $25 per month for service, or $30 for a mobile device. As part of the launch, the company is offering an option of $50 a month for service on any two types WiMAX devices for “life,” such as a home router as well as a mobile device.

Notebooks bearing Intel’s WiMAX-ready Centrino 2 are expected out later this year, as is the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition, a version of the popular Internet tablet equipped for the XOHM service.

High Speed — Some Restrictions Apply

Speeds are advertised as being an average of 2 to 4 megabits downstream, considerably faster than Sprint’s current, albeit much larger, EV-DO network. Customers are advised however that the service’s terms state that Sprint may throttle bandwidth intensive applications, including but not limited to file sharing. No other details or usages are specifically mentioned in the service’s acceptable use policy.

Details on specific local availability of WiMAX service can be found through the official XOHM website, along with purchasing and service options.

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