Sprint Nextel to deploy nationwide WiMAX network; speeds roll out of next-generation EV-DO technology

Sprint Nextel announced plans to deploy a fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband network using WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) technology.

Working together with Intel, Motorola and Samsung, Sprint Nextel will develop a nationwide network infrastructure and the WiMAX-enabled chipsets needed to support advanced wireless broadband services.

WiMAX may provide broadcasters with an important wireless alternative to supplement existing ENG point-to-point microwave transmission capability. At NAB2006, KRON in San Francisco announced it was conducting experiments with a Bay Area WiMAX provider to determine the viability of supporting field contribution. That provider offers full duplex data transmission from 1Mb/s to 7Mb/s. Sprint Nextel expects download speeds of 2Mb/s to 3Mb/s, according to a company spokesperson. The company has not yet announced its anticipated upload bit rate, she said.

The Sprint Nextel WiMAX network will use the company's 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which covers 85 percent of the households in the top 100 markets in the United States, the company said.

The company plans to begin deploying the WiMAX network by the end of next year and to reach as many as 100 million people with the service in 2008.

Separately, the company said it will move ahead with an expansion and upgrade of its EV-DO wireless broadband network.

Sprint Nextel will begin its roll out of EV-DO Revision A during the fourth quarter of the year with coverage expected to reach more than 40 million people by year end.

With EV-DO Revision A, users will achieve download speeds of 450kb/s to 800kb/s and average upload speeds of 300kb/s to 400kb/s. At NAB2006, several ENG microwave vendors advanced their IP-ENG systems designed to extended file-based newsroom workflows into the field. At that time, EV-DO was identified as one of the most likely candidates for completing the two-way loop between an ENG vehicle and the newsroom when deploying such systems. Additionally, the data rate of the new EV-DO Revision A technology promises faster upload speeds for television journalists working independently of an ENG vehicle to achieve acceptable throughput for uploading proxies and even edited stories.

Sprint plans to reach more than 200 million people in the United States with mobile broadband data services (both EV-DO Revs 0 and A) in 220 major metropolitan areas and 908 airports by the end of 2006. By the third quarter of 2007, Sprint's Power Vision network will be completely upgraded to the faster EV-DO Rev A.

The company successfully competed the first EV-DO Revision A data connection over its network in San Diego.

Verizon Wireless announced in mid-July that it expected to begin deployment of Nortel CDMA 1xEV-DO Revision (Rev.) A technology as part of its nationwide wireless broadband network during the third quarter. (See: "Verizon Wireless to deploy advanced EV-DO technology.")