Sprint Nextel has confirmed that it will soft-launch its mobile WiMAX services in Chicago and the Washington DC-Baltimore metro area before Christmas. Although the firm had been expected to introduce services on a full commercial basis by year-end, this initial switch-on will see Sprint employees testing mobile WiMAX, ahead of a wider customer trial in the first quarter of next year. The commercial launch has been put back to 2Q 2008. The trial networks will initially cover the downtown areas of Chicago, Washington DC and Baltimore, before being extended to other parts of these cities. Motorola has supplied the Chicago network, while Samsung has been responsible for the Washington-Baltimore rollout. A third supplier, Nokia Siemens Networks, is currently deploying WiMAX for Sprint in four Texas markets, with these scheduled to begin trials within the next few months. Sprint says it spent just USD73 million on its WiMAX build-outs in the third quarter of this year, so total spending for 2007/08 is likely to be well below the USD2.5 billion the carrier initially predicted.
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