Friday, October 7, 2011

Sprint Abandoning WiMAX

Maybe sometimes it's not better to be first.  Sprint was the first major wireless company in the U.S. to deploy a 4G network.  Unfortunately, it chose the wrong type of technology.  It went with WiMAX instead of the speedier LTE network.  Today, Sprint announced it will no longer sell WiMAX phones after 2012.  Sprint will deploy an LTE network in 2012 that will be as large as the WiMAX network by the end of the year (which is not saying much).

I'm a Clearwire customer, which uses the same WiMAX network.  Sprint is a majority shareholder of Clearwire but does not run the company.  I have the iSpot which is supposed to give me 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up.  It does decent on the uploading.  But, I have never gotten 6 down in Hawaii.   I got that speed when I went to Washington state and Oregon.  In the video above, it says 12 down in Chicago.  That may be right.  But, I'm not going to Chicago anytime soon.

All of this comes as Sprint begins pre-orders on the iPhone 4S.  So, if you do have a Sprint 4G device, you WILL have to upgrade to an eventual LTE device.

I never believed in WiMAX.  I knew LTE was the way to go.  I bought the iSpot because it was on sale for $30 and I get unlimited data for $25/month without a contract.  LTE hotspots go for at least $50 for the device and $50/month for around 2GB of data.  And now Clearwire has an uncertain future.  Will Sprint "share" its LTE network with Clearwire?

It's not always good to be first.

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