Sprint’s new WiMAX to be called ‘Xohm’

Sprint Nextel Corp.’s top executives Thursday will roll out “Xohm” as the new name for Sprint’s ambitious WiMax service, a spokesman said Wednesday.

“We are pursuing a new business model that is Internet-based, not telecom-based, and therefore will establish a new service brand,” to be called Xohm, said Sprint spokesman John Polivka, in an e-mail to Computerworld.

Polivka said the name Xohm rhymes with “home,” started with a “Z” sound. “It is a product of extensive research,” he added. “The X-factor makes it cool, research says.”

Details on the announcement were expected Thursday from Sprint CEO Gary Forsee and CTO Barry West, among others, at a conference called “Sprint Ahead: The Technology Summit” at the company’s headquarters in Reston, Va.

Polivka said Sprint’s pact with Google Inc., announced in July, to collaborate on Internet services over the new WiMax network “is a significant proof point of [our] Internet strategy, and it is our intent to be not just a portal but a destination as we mobilize the Internet.”

Sprint has a long reputation for giving unusual names to services, reaching back many years to services such as ION, an acronym for Integrated On-demand Network. However, the announcement for Xohm is clearly more than just a new name. Sprint’s investment in WiMax is considered critical to its future and analysts have noted Sprint’s huge investment in the wireless technology, as it evolves beyond traditional wireless and wired service offerings.

Announced a year ago, Sprint said it was investing about US$3 billion in a WiMax-based network, although its share of that total might have been changed by the partnerships with Google and others.

In addition to the Google collaboration, Sprint and Clearwire Corp. announced an agreement July 19 to build the Wimax network in the U.S. The two companies said they plan to reach 100 million U.S. customers by the end of 2008, including businesses, consumers, government and public safety agencies.

Sprint will build about 65 per cent of the network, and Clearwire the remaining 35 per cent. The partnership allows Sprint to invest less money to create a nationwide network, Forsee said at the time.

Sprint executives expect their WiMax network to provide speeds at three to four times that of 3G wireless networks, somewhere in the range of 2Mbit/sec. to 4Mbit/sec. Wimax also operates over licensed spectrum, with fewer access points in a given area than Wi-Fi, which is unlicensed spectrum.

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