WiMAX May Be Coming to Chicago This Summer

When was the last time you used a pay phone? For many, it’s probably been at least a few years. The downfall of the pay phone is key to Don Stroberg’s vision of how a new wireless broadband technology – called WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) – will be adopted by the consuming public.


“In 1992, when mobile voice was introduced, everybody said the same thing: I’ve got services at home; I’ve got services in the office; I can get to a pay phone when I need one,” he recalled.


Stroberg, vice president of sales for Sprint Nextel’s Xohm Business Unit, anticipates Americans responding in the same way to the company’s next-generation Internet service. But in the end, he sees consumers adopting Sprint’s technology in the same way they abandoned pay phones and landlines for cell phones. “It’s going to be the same introduction, I think,” he said. “You’re going to see customer adoption of this really explode over the next five years.”


The Evolution


Early in 2007, Sprint announced a new wireless broadband network that it claimed would surpass the capabilities of Wi-Fi in applications and mobility. Then, at the end of the year, Sprint engaged in a “soft launch” of its WiMAX network, dubbed Xohm, rolling out Internet service to its employees in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington. In this phase, Sprint is testing the network and working out any kinks before it launches wireless Internet service to consumers in Chicago by this summer.


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