Our all mobile encompassing sister site – MobileRoar.com – has published a more extensive “review” of Sprint’s WiMax event in Baltimore. You can only say/show so many things about a Wireless Internet Connection and we’ve summed them up for you:
- Its as fast
- Its fast
- We want it
Seeing as how we’re based in Baltimore, we’ll probably be picking up XOHM in the next week or so to give it a long-term test drive. Afterall, you don’t have to sign a long-term contract, you only have to commit month-by-month and its only $50/month ($25/month during the trial period). Sounds like a deal to me!
Not only is this thing BLAZING fast but you can use it ANYwhere in Baltimore as illustrated at the event. In your house? Of course. In the car? No problem. In the middle of the Inner Harbor on a Water Taxi? You betcha!
Not only that, WiMax currently covers 70% of Baltimore city and a quick look at XOHM.com shows the expansion within the Baltimore area over the next several months. My folks live in Columbia, MD which is 20 minutes away and only 30 minutes or so from Washington DC… their area will be covered in 2009 as well. Awesome.
If you want a more in depth look at how the day went, check out the MobileRoar WiMax post. Otherwise, take a look at the super quick and uber random video below, with bullet points below briefly explaining what the heck you’re gazing at:
- Barry West (XOHM President) and Dan Hesse (Sprint CEO) spoke at the presentations and busted out a few quirky jokes including West cluelessly claiming, “I’m not sure why you would buy anything with the New Egg.” The Press Conference was exactly what you would expect: WiMax is the best thing since sliced bread… NOW EAT IT!
- Kiosks displayed the new devices launched (laptops and internet tablets) that were WiMax enabled and they worked as advertised – fast as hell.
- A limousine van drove about 10 guests at a time through Baltimore City to experience WiMax on the go. Speeds ranged from 10 MPH to 30MPH and it was OCCASSIONALLY spotty but mostly right on the money. And when it was on… BOY was it on. Once again, FAST!
- Time to move to the In-Home demonstration. Sprint rented out a nice row home on the water to display WiMax in the home including data and voice.
- The house overlooked Water Taxis which were… giving more WiMax tours of how the service performed in the middle of the freaking Inner Harbor. And guess what? It worked!
If there was a main problem with WiMax its that its hard to get worked up over an Internet Connection. Most people get amped about hardware and stoked about software but the common thread that is able to tie the two together is seen as just that: glue… boring old glue.
Barry West actually acknowledge that to some degree saying that people don’t care HOW the technology works.. just that it WORKS. Sprint has a long road ahead of them in explaining why choose Sprint WiMax over Comcast, for instance. Their marketing campaign of “WiMax: A Hotspot As Big As A City” really hits home and explains to most regular, tech friendly folks exactly what WiMax is.
As far as I’m concerned, Sprint has a few major challenges and they are:
- Educating the public
- Convincing the public to sign up for 1 more service when Comcast already bundles it all. Nobody likes having more bills to pay, even if they add up to the same amount. And frankly, I don’t think anyone wants to speak to any “lenders” who will “consolidate their monthly payments” at the moment.
- The economy – do people have the money to spend?
As far as WiMax and Android/Mobile goes, we’re a little bit away from seeing that. The focus of the day was on devices – mobile devices – but that means notebooks/laptops and Internet Tablets… NOT Mobile Phones.
Sprint said that WOULD come at some point, but not until the scope of their network was larger. Later this year, Baltimore will already see a Sprint AirCard that is based on 4G and DEFAULTS to slow 3G connections when it is forced to (do you sense our sarcasm?). Selling these localized products/services to Baltimore consumers makes sense… but Mobile Phones is another whole step that will have to wait.
“How Long Will It Have To Wait, Rob?”
I’m glad you asked. It will have to wait until the New Clearwire – the new legal entity of which Google is invested, officially “passes” the restrictions of the FCC. Today, Sprint executives said they fully expect that deal to be completed by the end of the year.
What then? Then $3.2 Billion Dollars of Capital go towards expanding the WiMax network on a global scale. Dan Hesse explained it would likely take $5 Billion dollars to get the job done and noted that they, “better start fundraising.” They’ve got partners with a lot of deep pockets, but I’m sure Intel execs weren’t overly thrilled when Sprint execs drooled over their cash, commenting at their Balance Sheet and how they could narrow the $1.8 Billion Dollar gap.
Imagine a tribal village somewhere in Africa or India where there are no wires… no telephone landlines… heck, perhaps not even bathrooms. But imagine still being able to get Internet access there… and faster access than you get on your desktop computer. Its possible, and Sprint hopes to cover over HALF of the world’s population (area wise) in the next several years. That’s a lofty feat.
Sprint executives made it perfectly clear that Wireless Carriers should NOT feel threatened and that WiMax was mainly for DATA delivery purposes… for now. It seems much more likely that in the next couple years we’ll first see a device that uses 3G voice as a maximum but when browsing the web, it first looks for 4G WiMax.
Since basically the beginning of this whole “Android Thing” we’ve been talking about how Google and Android could usher in an era of 100% Free cellular phone service that is subsidized by on-phone advertising. Thats not likely something that would happen in 2009… but why shouldn’t it or couldn’t it happen in the next several years? And why not a WiMax enabled Android Phone?
There are SOOOO many pieces out there and it can be really fun to try and put together the Mobile puzzle. WiMax/XOHM has the potential to be one of those edge (no pun intended) or corner pieces that serve as the foundation and reference point to which you can start filling in the details.
We’ll likely be getting WiMax in the office for at least a couple months as a trial. But in the meantime… where do you think Sprint/WiMax/XOHM will be in 1, 2, 3 or even 5 years from now?