San Francisco (CA) - Xohm president Barry West announced that Sprint and the companies that saved the company's WiMax network in May will be offering the high-speed wireless technology in September of this year on a very limited basis.
WiMax carries the hope of many hardware manufacturers and software service providers to spark yet another evolution of wireless connectivity and finally deliver on the promise on limitless, always-on connectivity for affordable prices. After months of uncertainty, we have no a clear launch time frame. Xohm (Sprint's WiMax unit) president Xohm announced at Intel's Centrino 2 launch event that WiMax will launch in September in Baltimore.
No other cities have been announced yet and we don't have an exact date yet: The Xohm executive said that he could provide such a date and said that it would be between September 1 and September 30 (we think this should have been funny, but it really wasn't). However, at least we now know that WiMax will launch this year and Intel will be rolling out its WiMax chipsets in time for the rollout.
Earlier this year, it seemed that Sprint's financial struggles could bury the WiMax effort in the U.S. for good. However, a group of companies that included Clearwire, Google, Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse saved Sprint with a massive investment. Sprint will hold 51% of the new venture called Clearwire, representing a $7.4 billion stake. Clearwire’s participation is valued at $3.9 billion and a 28% stake. The remaining 22% will go to Comcast, which invested $1.05 billion, Intel ($1.0 billion), Time Warner Cable ($550 million), Google ($500 million) and Brighthouse ($100 million). The complete company was valued at $14.5 billion at founding.
Next to Sprint and Clearwire, Intel is the largest stakeholder due to its previous investment in Clearwire, which gave the chip manufacturer a share of more than 20% in the communications company.
Intel’s position is unique, not just because its substantial share in the new company, but the fact that it is the dominant WiMax hardware company worldwide. Not surprisingly, Intel said it will work with manufacturers to “embed WiMax chips into Intel Centrino 2 processor technology-based laptops and other Intel-based mobile Internet devices, and will market the new company’s service in association with Intel’s performance notebook PC brand.”
Intel vice president Sriram Viswanathan, who runs Intel’ WiMax business, told TG Daily that Intel considers the availability and success of WiMax as a “critical” component of its product and business strategy. “Broadband wireless is an integral part of mobile devices today,” he said. “There will be no alternative to WiMax within the next three years.”