WiMax Ultra-Hi Speed Service Launched in Maryland

Dennis Faas's picture

Trivia time: which was the first U.S. city to offer area-wide broadband access? We now have an answer for you -- Baltimore, Maryland. When visiting the storied metropolis you won't need to be on the lookout for "WiFi available here" signs anymore, because the entire city has become one enormous hot spot.

Mobile WiFi is a fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology also known as WiMax, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. Wireless telecommunications giant Sprint has teamed with Seattle-based carrier Clearwire to offer WiMax service to thousands of potential consumers.

Sprint and Clearwire have created a new company (also called Clearwire) committed to the study and evolution of this new 4G technology. Among the most prolific backers financing the service are Google, Intel and Comcast.

WiMax will cater to the needs of laptop users, not mobile phone users, and will be marketed as a way to surf the Internet from a car parked anywhere in the city, or as a way to watch uninterrupted YouTube videos from the backseat of a moving car.

What about those without a laptop computer?

Sprint and Clearwire believe that consumers will want to buy into the WiMax service for the speed alone. WiMax boasts 10 megabits per second or better, making it a viable replacement for DSL or cable modems on home or office computers. (Source: bdmetrics.com)

Sprint will not be launching the service under the "WiMax" label, but has opted to pitch a different name: Xohm. Many believe that the name will change once the details of the merger have been ironed out.

How do consumers use the Xohm service?

For around $10 dollars a day or about $30 per month, users will be given a special WiMax air card or modem. It's almost like using the WiFi service on a train or airplane, only Xohm can be used anywhere in the city. There are no contracts to be upheld and access can start immediately after purchase.

Those not living in or around the Baltimore area will not have to wait long for the service to come to them. Sprint and Clearwire plan on introducing the service to other major U.S. cities like Chicago, Portland, Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas/Fort Worth by early 2009. (Source: usatoday.com)

Sprint and Clearwire are predicting that 60-80 million consumers could have Xohm access by late 2009, 140 million by 2010 and nearly 200 million people all across the United States within 5 years.

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