A first look at Xohm
WiMAX goes live in Baltimore as Sprint unveils the details of Xohm’s pricing and positioning
Sneaking in under its self-imposed deadline, Sprint today launched its first commercial Xohm network in Baltimore, marking the first deployment of a mobile WiMAX network by a major wireless operator. While the launch was expected, it revealed several details about Sprint’s plans to position the service going forward as it rolls out WiMAX in Chicago and Washington, D.C., later this year and nationwide as part of the new Clearwire in 2009.
“This is truly an historic day with the birth of a completely new Internet-based business model that alters the dynamics of the traditional telecom industry,” Xohm president and Sprint chief technology officer Barry West said in a statement. The service does away with many of the traditional practices of the wireless industry such as long-term contracts, device subsidies and data caps, instead taking its cues from wireline Internet providers, which offer open broadband access for set monthly fees. Even within the context of the Internet realm, Xohm is looking to shake up traditional notions. Not only does the service offer mobility, Sprint is initially pricing the service below what consumers typically pay for home DSL or cable modem service.
The two devices are now available, a Samsung PC card available for $60 and a desktop modem for $80, both unsubsidized and requiring no contract at purchase. Most surprisingly though is the pricing of the service itself. Sprint is looking to match or undercut both mobile data plans offered by wireless operators and residential broadband offered by the local exchange carrier and cable company, offering the residential connectivity for a mere $25 a month. For mobile services using the Samsung laptop card and presumably any future mobile devices or modems will be $30 a month, compared to the $60-$80 a month of the typical CDMA or UMTS 3G access service. Xohm will also have a combined plan offering both residential and mobile broadband for $55 a month, as well as day pass plan for $10.
The devices will be sold on the Xohm website, through phone sales channels, through still unspecified independent retailers and eventually at Xohm kiosks. Activation of the service, however, will be automated. A computer connected to the Xohm device will immediately access the Xohm site, where customers select a service plan and credit card information, eliminating dedicated customer service force at the point-of-sale. Surprisingly, the service won’t be sold at Sprint stores perhaps the single largest channel resource Xohm has available. That decision was deliberate to prevent confusion between the Sprint and Xohm plans, said Don Stroberg, vice president of Xohm sales and distribution.
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