Jun 26th, 2009

wimax-logoIn addition to re-dropping the Sprint HTC Hero rumors, PhoneNews is reporting that Sprint is currently testing a device with WiMax – Sprint’s 4G service which is their brand of Clearwire/Clear. This is being viewed as fairly big news but I’m also fairly skeptical – WiMax launched in Baltimore last year to initial excitement but since then the service has proved to score more of a bellyflop than a splash – and I’ve got first hand experience.

I attended the WiMax launch in Baltimore and promptly followed up with an article about why I love XOHM. Soon after that was tempered by an article on why I hate XOHM after an irritation with the service. The XOHM name was abolished in favor of WiMax and I hadn’t used it since my terrible experience… until this morning.

Last night my Comcast internet went down and this morning it was STILL down. I rummaged around and found my old XOHM USB adapter that alledgedly captures the WiMax signal and offers blazing fast connection speeds. Two hours later I finally got it working and it worked okay but definitely wasn’t blazing fast. Five minutes after paying the $5/day access fee my Comcast kicked back in and I was happy I could once again ditch WiMax.

I’m fairly certain you could ask 100 random people in the Baltimore area if they knew what XOHM, WiMax or Clearwire was and 99 would say no. That other 1 would likely be if you somehow asked me as 1 of the random people. The service is only available in a couple cities and rollout doesn’t seem to be speeding up much. Sure, having a WiMax phone would be great if you live in one of those cities but what portion of the market is that?

A very, very small portion of the market and that is exactly why a WiMax phone won’t come until WAY down the line. In the one market it IS working it isn’t really… working. At least from my experience. The connectivity was okay but the process of GAINING access to the connectivity was a burden to say the least. While that problem is completely bypassed when WiMax is on phone it just doesn’t seem like the service is heading in the right direction.

I could riddle off a list of irritations but at this point it wouldn’t prove very productive. WiMax should be slapped with an alpha sticker and all rumors about a WiMax phone should come with the disclaimer that even 2010 would seem pretty quick. If the stars aligned, Sprint whipped the service into shape and launched it quickly would we give it another shot? Of course… I still think it has a lot of potential but it is far, far, far from fruition.

Oh yeah… I didn’t even mention that the WiMax device they’re supposedly testing is a Samsung. But again, we’re sitting at the theatre before the previews have even started.

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