Sprint’s XOHM WiMax Network Working in Boston?

Sprint Nextel, which is spending billions to blanket major U.S. cities with super-high-speed wireless networks based on the new WiMax standard, turned on its first city—Baltimore—last week. Now there’s a report from the blogosphere that Sprint’s so-called XOHM network is up and running—though not officially launched or supported—in six additional locales, including Boston.

The automotive electronics website MP3Car.com reported yesterday, based on a conversation with a XOHM representative working at a booth at Baltimore’s Fells Point Festival, that the XOHM network has been turned on for testing purposes in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and northern Virginia. The network is “not supported,” the reports said, but computer users who have bought the Samsung Expresscard, one of the first WiMax wireless cards certified to work with XOHM, should be able to get onto the network.

We’re seeking confirmation of this news from Sprint Nextel, which hasn’t yet responded to our inquiries. The XOHM website says that the network is “coming soon” to Chicago and Washington DC and that it’s “in the works” in Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Providence, and Philadelphia.

XOHM is a so-called 4G or fourth-generation wireless network that delivers data to subscribers’ laptop or desktop PCs at speeds of 2 to 4 megabits per second. That’s a lot faster than 3G wireless: while 3G speeds vary depending on signal strength, I get downloads on my iPhone 3G at about 800 kilobits per second (0.8 megabits per second). But XOHM isn’t as fast as most cable Internet connections—here at Xconomy, our Comcast cable Internet service tops out at around 13 megabits per second. Sprint’s introductory prices for XOHM service in Baltimore are $10 for a day pass, $25 per month for home service, and $30 per month for “On-the-go” or mobile service.

So, Bostonians—if you have a WiMax card and the XOHM network is working for you, let us know. (Leave a comment or write to editors@xconomy.com.)

Update 5:15 pm, 10/6/08: John Polivka, a public relations representative for XOHM, sent the following note just now. I had asked Polivka whether XOHM is working in Boston for people who have WiMax cards. He didn’t offer a direct answer, so draw your own conclusions:

“XOHM service is commercially available in Baltimore only, though we have a number of other cities where the 4G mobile broadband network is in various stages of development or implementation. Chicago and Washington DC are furthest along and developmental work is in process in Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Dallas and Ft. Worth. No timetables have been announced, and the privilege of doing so will likely fall to the new Clearwire—expected to be formed sometime this quarter from the merger with Sprint’s XOHM WiMax once all approvals are received. There has been a phenomenal response to our launch, so additional interest is certainly understood.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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