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Sprint to 'Soft Launch' WiMax Network

Sprint will be "soft-launching" their new WiMax wireless network known as XOHM later this week, according to MacNN. The initial plans will make make WiMax networks available in downtown Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

The official launch is reported to be in the 2nd quarter of 2008 when a number of WiMax enabled laptops are expected to be released. Sprint expects 100 million Americans to be within WiMax range by the end of 2008.

WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a next generation wireless technology that promises inexpensive wireless broadband. A USAToday article discussing the new technology reveals that that the network will be "open" with no long term service contracts and customers will be allowed to use any WiMax device on the network. Critics of the service, however, believe that existing 3G cellular technologies, such as HSPA, already fill this need.

Of particular interest is that Intel has been a strong proponent of the technology and will start building WiMax enabled chipsets for its upcoming Montevina platform which replaces Santa Rosa. This is no guarantee that Apple will necessarily use Intel's wireless chipset, as they are not using them in the current iteration of MacBooks.

While Apple has made no public commitments to WiMax technology, the possible introduction of sub-notebook MacBook so close to WiMax's launch has surely raised these possibilities at Apple headquarters. This, however, all remains speculative, as no credible rumors have yet placed WiMax technology in Apple hardware.

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