I sat down today -- virtually, at least -- and spoke with Mr. Bin Shen, VP of Broadband Strategy with Sprint Nextel, about this afternoon's rather intriguing announcement that Sprint Nextel will be partnering with Motorola, Samsung and Intel to deploy a fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband data network in the U.S. within the next 24 months. I asked Mr. Shen about four important questions regarding the announcement, presented to www.thewirelessreport.com
1) Describe the involvement of the mobile WiMAX partners announced with Sprint Nextel today: Motorola, Samsung and Intel:
- Motorola -- With the RAZR's success and commitment to advancing WiMAX worldwide, Motorola will bring technical and marketing support to Sprint Nextel in our rollout of mobile WiMAX service
- Samsung -- Will supply mobile WiMAX device support and marketing/promotion assistance on a world-class scale
- Intel -- Intel has a firm commitment to WiMAX technology and a perfect partner for development and deployment, based on the success of the wirelessly-integrated Intel Centrino platform
2) Will EV-DO and the upcoming EV-DO revision A standard be replaced by Sprint Nextel's mobile WiMAX solution, or will the technologies and markets co-exist and service different customer segments?
- The networks will co-exist, since they will serve different markets. Sprint Nextel will be rolling out EV-DO revision A at the end of this year and during 2007, and will remain firmly committed to that technology as our just-announced mobile WiMAX solution is being developed and released to the consumer during 2008.
3) Do you see Sprint Nextel's 4G WiMAX plans competing head-to-head with established, non-mobile broadband alternatives like cable modems and DSL services?
- Sprint Nextel does not see head-to-head competition with cable modem or DSL providers, although we plan to take broadband services out of the wired environment -- home or office -- and provide that solution anywhere mobile WiMAX coverage will available. So, it it will be mobility-based and state-of-the-art alternative to wired broadband solutions like home-based cable modem or DSL service, but with the all-important mobility-anywhere factor.
4) What timeframe does Sprint Nextel envision on completing backhaul operations, testing and deploying a working customer solution for this 4G announcement?
- Within 24 months from now, a working, nationwide customer solution should be in place with our mobile WiMAX network. We plan to have our mobile WiMAX network covering areas in the U.S. that 100 million people live and work in by 2008.
With this announcement and Motorola and Intel's recent financial and technical investment in pre-WiMAX company Clearwire
, things are indeed shaping up very fast and very nicely for WiMAX technology. Sprint Nextel just trumped quite a few wireless telecommunications companies with the announcement today, so my hat is off to them. Many of us will finally have a wireless broadband Internet solution that can go with us anywhere, but that also gives us the speed of a wired broadband connection. Times are really becoming nice, yes?