In another significant broadband development, Sprint Nextel on Monday became the first wireless operator in the U.S. to launch mobile WiMAX services, with the introduction of its long-anticipated “Xohm” network in Baltimore, Maryland. Monday’s network debut represents the first step in Sprint’s planned coast-to-coast rollout of Xohm, which is slated to form part of the nationwide venture between Sprint and Clearwire for which FCC approval remains pending. Xohm is expected to offer download speeds of 2-4 megabits per second that are twice as fast as cellular broadband services currently offered by rivals Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA. The service would also provide subscribers with the flexibility to access mobile WiMax services on the go or at home through a coffee brewer-sized modem that is priced at $80. Sprint is offering a range of pricing plans that include a $10 day pass, $25 per month for home access, and $30 per month for mobile access (for which a $60 laptop card would also be required). A Sprint spokesman added that Xohm customers “can buy devices in retail outlets and online and self-activate them, choose services without lengthy contracts, and bundle many devices under one user plan.” Although Sprint has no plans as yet for any WiMax handsets, the company hopes to market WiMax-enabled laptop PCs and USB modems by the end of this year. The company is also slated to deploy service in the Washington, D.C. and Chicago markets by year’s end.