Sprint for past year or so has been chasing the WiMax carrot. The carrier has been facing huge subscriber churn issues since its merger with Nextel. Many think that WiMax would be its savior. WiMax is a key wireless technology, which will allow true broadband speeds (in multiple mbps) to be delivered over the air. The technology is critical as it will enable further reach than typical cable or DSL infrastructures.

Sprint who is spending billions in the WiMax network officially announced its brand name yesterday. They will launch this service as “XOHM” (pronounced as zoam). The website went online late last night with basic service information.

So why should you as a consumer care? How does this impact you? Let’s look at some of the elements of this service, which will potentially have some social impacts.

Its not about Cellphones any more

Current mobile wireless technologies are only sufficient to make calls and perform basic data access for email and such. Any other data intensive operation is a burden on these networks. Those of you who have used data cards on their laptops know that the technology is not there yet. Not to mention that these technologies suffer service degradation due to the ever increasing subscriber loads.

WiMax Speed

Having broadband access over the air means that the technology will not be limited to just cell phones but can be extended to other portable devices. Sprint has partnered with key players like Intel, Motorola and Samsung to offer this technology to other devices. In the beginning Sprint will offer this access to laptops to satisfy the needs of us mobile warriors. However gradually they will extend this to:

  • Handheld gaming systems
  • Media players
  • Automobiles
  • Cameras and camcorders
  • Anything which can utilize data access on the go

Open Devices and Open Applications

Recently I wrote about Google’s efforts with FCC to truly open up the 700 MHZ spectrum. Google also inked n important deal with Sprint around its WiMax services. They are working on bringing next generation services using WiMax as the transport. Who knows, possibly a GPhone too.


With Sprint enabling XOHM WiMax, entities like Google and others will be able to offer key services which haven’t been brought to the mobile domain due to the so called “Walled Garden”. This technology will allow phone manufacturers to get creative and offer serious data devices. These data devices can essentially have voice functions over data (using VOIP) and offer services as they would on a normal computer. Think iPhone on steroids (not that it needs any ;-) ).

Application developers will not have to be restricted to J2ME, BREW or other such restrictive technologies. They will be easily able to write and deploy applications for such devices as they would for a personal computer.

These elements combined will truly change the mobile landscape. It will force the other players to think of their long term strategy. Kudos to Sprint for jumping head on into this and continue to push the envelope. They are fully committed and planning to spend additional $5 Billion by end of 2010.

Looking forward to cooler devices and faster speeds.