Sunday, January 04, 2009

WiMax Announcement Coming at CES

More WiMax news from Chicago. Interesting rationale on why Baltimore was chosen over Chicago. And it looks like Portland will be the next WiMax venue - to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The future of the Internet was supposed to arrive in Chicago by the end of 2008. Instead, WiMax landed in Baltimore and is heading to Portland.

So when will the powerful, high-speed wireless network arrive here?

It looks like late in 2009, although the newly merged company rolling it out has yet to confirm plans.

"Chicago is very high on our list," said Todd Rowley, vice president for Sprint's WiMax network, which the carrier calls 4G. "We have many hundreds of cell sites operating already in the area. I hope it will be available in the latter half of the year."

The network already is in place, stretching from Gary to Rockford, but isn't ready to go live.


Why did Baltimore get the nod over Chicago?

Sprint and Clearwire wanted to see how well the wireless signals would traverse older homes with thick walls and how it would travel over hills and a harbor. Also, Baltimore's compact footprint was more appealing than Chicago's sprawl.

WiMax has the muscle to compete against the high-speed, land-based home Web connections provided by AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. Yet it also doubles as a cellular network for Sprint, making it accessible from home or the road.

"I was getting 5-megabit-plus download speeds on my laptop throughout Baltimore," said Jeff Thompson, president and chief executive of Towerstream, which offers a commercial WiMax network in Chicago. "To do that on a mobile device, it was amazing."

Launched in September, Sprint conservatively promotes average data download speeds between 2 and 4 megabits per second.

By comparison, for home use, AT&T offers high-speed connections between 1.5 and 6 megabits, depending on price, while Comcast offers speeds as high as 12 megabits.

The next market to get WiMax will be Portland, Ore., expected to be announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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