Sprint’s WiMax Network Operative in Boston, Mobile Computing Site Confirms

10/9/08Follow @wroush

On Monday I blogged about a report that the XOHM WiMax network, Sprint Nextel’s venture into broadband wireless service, is up and running in Boston and several other cities, even though the company has officially launched the service only in Baltimore. Today, the source of that report, Robert Wray of in-car-computing site MP3Car.com, wrote to let me know that he has verified that XOHM is active here by driving through the city with a WiMax-enabled laptop.

Wray flew into Boston on Wednesday, rented a car, and drove south from Logan Airport to Weymouth, measuring his network connection speed along the way. Even driving at 65 miles per hour, he was able to connect at about 2.5 megabits per second—three or four times the speed of 3G devices such as the Apple iPhone. “Coverage was patchy, but when it worked, it really worked,” Wray writes.

Wray, who lives in Maryland, was even able to use the location-finding features provided by XOHM’s network, watching as a little man-shaped icon representing the car’s position moved across a Google map.

An official at Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) told me on Monday that the XOHM service is still in the “developmental” stages in Boston and several other cities, including Providence, RI, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Fort Worth, TX. Any announcement about the official launch of the network in these cities, the official said, would probably come from “the new Clearwire,” the company expected to be formed this year from the pending merger of Sprint’s XOHM subsidiary with Kirkland, WA-based Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR). That merger is still under review by courts in Illinois and regulators in Washington, and is dependent on a $3.2 billion investment from Bright House Networks, Comcast, Intel, Google, and Time Warner Cable.

Clearly, though, Sprint has already installed enough WiMax equipment in and around Boston to provide fairly comprehensive coverage. Wray’s full results are posted at his blog; he says he plans to test XOHM connection speeds at several more locations while he is visiting Boston.

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

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