After Sprint’s announcement that the commercial launch of XOHM WiMax services would be delayed at CTIA, recent comments made by Sprint’s CTO may provide some crucial answers. Read More for complete details.
Speaking at the Wireless Communications Association conference held in Washington D.C. on the 22nd, spokesman and Sprint CTO Barry West confirmed that the cellsites were up and ready for deployment, but the launch was delayed due to issues with network backhaul and the implementation of their new customer management and billing platform.
Further commentary by West confirms constant conjecture and chatter across the mobile media regarding the biggest point of contention in deploying XOHM: Finding enough high-speed links in order to provide the bandwidth necessary to function at stated speeds across the country with hundreds and potentially thousands of users at once.
West had stated that the initial test networks in Washington D.C/Baltimore and Chicago have been up and running, but finding enough high-speed backhaul in order to provide reliable service and scale for further expansion had proven more difficult than initially thought. He also lamented not being able to launch at CTIA, and is now echoing prior statements with a targeted launch by the end of the year.
Since the service requires a minimum of 30-40Mbps backhaul to deliver 2-4Mbps to customers, standard T1 lines used in its CDMA network are not adequate for provisioning WiMax cell sites, and the company is working with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson to deploy point-to point microwave transmission equipment to sites where fiber channel cannot be acquired and implemented along with brokering fiber access from backhaul provider FiberTower.
Speculation has also pointed to Sprint leveraging its former SprintLink network and leasing fiber access from cable operators in urban areas and has provided no further comment on negotiations with cable companies or the restarted Clearwire partnership negotiations.
Sprint is also implementing an open access standard similar to Wi-Fi networks, and is working with billing systems developer Amdocs in order to implement the customer management and billing system which he states is no longer an issue, citing that the system is now in place and is now receiving network equipment from Motorola and Samsung all the way down to consumer devices.
West also took the time out to respond to detractors by stating that while 700Mhz has propagation and cell site positioning advantages to Sprint’s 2.5Ghz holdings, it still lacks the comparative capacity to support multiple users and multiple high speed transfers compared to Sprint’s holdings, and would still require the same dense footprint as the current XOHM deployment thanks to lower user capacity per cell site, effectively negating any cellsite spacing advantages the band holds to begin with.