Sprint Nextel reaffirmed its $5 billion plan to build a coast-to-coast WiMax network with the disclosure of a series of partnerships that will enable Sprint to begin offering service on its “Xohm” network later this year. The series of eight partnerships, announced at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday, appeared to eliminate doubts that had surfaced late last year upon the termination of Sprint’s high-profile WiMax venture with Clearwire. (The former partners had been slated to pool their respective WiMax efforts and to provide WiMax network capacity to each other’s customers.) The abrupt resignation of former Sprint CEO Gary Forsee last fall had raised further questions about Xohm’s future, as shareholders had voiced concerns about the project’s cost. In a development that, in the words of one analyst, proves that Sprint’s WiMax plans are “a go,” Sprint confirmed that it had signed eight new partners on the Xohm project, including software concern McAfee (which will provide electronic security functions), Amdocs (which will provide systems integration), and SwapDrive (which will offer systems storage services). Zyxel, a modem manufacturer, will develop a mobile WiMax device for use on the Xohm network, and OQO will embed mobile WiMax capabilities into an ultra-mobile PC to be released by the end of this year. Equipment makers Nokia and Samsung, which are already working with Sprint, confirmed that they would have Xohm-compatible mobile devices ready in time for Xohm’s projected commercial launch in the second quarter.
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