WASHINGTON (AFP) — The eastern port of Baltimore became the first major city in the United States on Monday to be blanketed with a wireless broadband network that uses next-generation mobile WiMAX technology.
US telecom provider Sprint Nextel Corp. announced the start of the WiMAX service, known as XOHM, which allows computers to access the Internet wirelessly at faster speeds and with a wider reach than Wi-Fi technology.
WiMAX quickly moves large amounts of digital data such as video or picture files long distances, as compared to Wi-Fi connections available in cyber cafes or other "hot spots" where signals reach a few hundred yards or less.
XOHM subscribers can use WiMAX from home on their personal computers but also on their laptops with special air cards and modems.
"Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility," said Barry West, president of Sprint's XOHM business unit.
Sprint said it was offering WiMAX service plans starting with a 10-dollar day pass, a 25-dollar monthly home Internet service and a 30-dollar a month "on-the-go" service.
It said its WiMAX service offers average downlink speeds of two to four megabits per second, faster than that of most 3G wireless networks.
Backers of WiMAX have called it "Wi-Fi on steroids" and claim it could eventually render cable or phone line Internet obsolete.
WiMax uses a licensed channel of radio spectrum and can transmit as far as 30 miles (50 kilometers) with a stronger signal than Wi-Fi and access faster than most current devices.
Sprint said the start of the WiMAX service in Baltimore was a step towards "a nationwide 4G mobile broadband network that is designed to offer faster speeds, lower cost, greater convenience and enhanced multimedia quality."
Sprint Nextel has combined its networks with that of Clearwire to create a new company, to be named Clearwire, to deploy a nationwide WiMAX network.
The new firm has investment from Internet search giant Google, computer chip maker Intel, cable firms Comcast and Time Warner Cable and service provider Bright House Networks. The firms agreed to invest a total of 3.2 billion dollars in the new company.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »