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Communications Wireless Networking Hardware

Sprint's Xohm WiMax Network Debuts In Baltimore, Works Well 86

Posted by timothy
from the will-it-reach-the-double-t-diner? dept.
bsk_cw writes "Sprint's newly launched Xohm service is now offering America's first WiMax network. Computerworld's Brian Nadel went to Baltimore to try it out, and he reports that Xohm delivered data smoothly to a car moving at highway speeds, played YouTube videos flawlessly, and on average, pushed through more than 3Mbit/sec., compared with 1.3 Mbit/sec. for the AT&T network Brian used as a comparison. But right now, coverage is only planned in a few US cities; if Sprint isn't able to ramp up its coverage quickly, it may lose its advantage."
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Sprint's Xohm WiMax Network Debuts In Baltimore, Works Well

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  • Woo hoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday October 10, 2008 @10:45PM (#25335791) Homepage Journal

    Xohm delivered data smoothly to a car moving at highway speeds, played YouTube videos flawlessly

    Awesome!

    Talking on a cell while driving is illegal, so I may as well watch YouTube!
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      Some people are actually trying to minimize their carbon footprint using carpool, passenger mothers entertain their children, teenagers on the back seat explore Second Life (not really sure what to do with their first life yet, but nevermind)....

      • by jabithew (1340853)

        Some people are actually trying to minimize their carbon footprint using carpool

        And god forbid you have a conversation with your friends or colleagues in the process...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 10, 2008 @10:47PM (#25335823)

    It'd take quite a bit more bandwidth to get me to visit Baltimore.

    • by rob1980 (941751)
      What about the baseball team? Oh, wait.

      /isn't bitter

      //screw you, Peter Angelos!
    • by mcrbids (148650)

      Bandwidth is nice, but what about latency?

      I have a Verizon data card that I use in my laptop from time to time. I get about 1 Mbit download speed which is pretty nice, but since most of the time, I work by xterm over SSH, the latency is very important.

      For a YT video, 100 ms is fine. But for remote sessions, cellular latencies can be maddening. Yet somehow, wifi manages to be imperceptibly slower than a wired network. Honestly: why is cellular so bad? (And what's WiMax like?)

      • Cellular sucks for latency the same reason satellite sucks. There's a huge path the packets have to take. With satellite, you have to go from your dish, to the satellite, to the ground station, to the net destination, and back through that whole mix back to your dish in your yard. Light only travels so fast. With cellular, the data is sent from the card in your laptop, to the tower, which is then tunneled back to the distribution center for the carrier, out over the net and then back again (hence, the horri

        • by mcrbids (148650)

          Most access points in public that aren't operated by a carrier are connected right into a routable net connection, so your packets don't take as nearly as long a route as cellular/satellite.

          But even this makes no sense.... When I connect to a server hosted in the same city I live in (Chico, near Sacramento, California) my home DSL line packets go from my house through Portland, OR before turning south through San Fransisco, CA and finally to the destination in Sacramento, California. It's a fairly long rout

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rabbit994 (686936)

            DSL and Cable work by providing a continuing stream of packets. Cell phone networks can't offer that though so there is times where they may delay delivery for 200MS or so while tower is busy doing something else before delivering all your data to you in on massive chunk. Mbit/s isn't only measure of network connection.

        • Add to that the fact that the radio sleeps after a certain amount of idle time, which causes an added delay when the radio wakes back up and does its thing.

    • by DPBjr (1382917)
      Hey, youins aint welcome here anyway and if ya come round Jonny U's on Puh-laski Highway I'm gonna kick ur a**, now get away from my Firebird
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday October 10, 2008 @10:54PM (#25335889) Homepage

    Sure, you can deliver 3Mb/sec wirelessly. But can you deliver 30,000Mb/sec?

    See, the problem is that what I (and a good portion of the tech-using community) would like is to be able to access this bandwidth on demand, anywhere. Do you believe there would be 10,000 users in a wingle WiMax coverage area? If so, they are going to need 30,000Mb/sec to keep everyone working at this speed.

    Microcells work for cell phones, but the rules are different.

    • by cjb658 (1235986)

      You're right, I hope it scales.

      With my AT&T card though, I got much lower speeds when I was moving than when I stayed in one place.

    • First off you need some math skills. Not every single one of those 10,000 is going to be using 3Mbps at the same time. It just doesn't work like that. A single 10Gb circuit can handle upwards of possibly a couple hundred thousand subscribers.
      • by jabithew (1340853)

        Not every single one of those 10,000 is going to be using 3Mbps at the same time.

        Not unless they're all watching YouTube videos while driving. Maybe they'll want to merge without looking. Rumsfeld!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)
        Do you happen to work for Comcast?
        • No. I do not work for Comcast. I do however work for a company involved in this. Most people don't understand that your $60/month for your 12Mbps doesn't pay for that badwidth. That is why it is shared between so many customers. Not every single person on your block is going to be using it at the same time. Unless of course if everyone on your block is using peer-to-peer. (Why Comcast was blocking or slowing down that type of data) Bandwidth isn't cheap. Heck I used to pay $1600/month for a T1 (1.5Mbps/1.5M
          • You still overpayed, though. T1's are archaic. You can get 5mbit fiber these days for sub-$1000. ;) (Depends on your location, I suppose, and how long ago you were talking about.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by frieko (855745)
      AFAIK WiMax supports a cellular configuration. They can start out with widely spaced towers, and wherever they have too many people connecting they fill in more towers. Just like cell phones. That or they can just buy a wider swath of spectrum, although it's a precious commodity these days.
    • by Fumus (1258966)

      Do you believe there would be 10,000 users in a wingle WiMax coverage area?

      10,000? I don't believe you could fit more than 20 people in a wingle. [infomotori.co.uk]

    • by ajay63 (164225)

      Sure, you can deliver 3Mb/sec wirelessly. But can you deliver 30,000Mb/sec?

      See, the problem is that what I (and a good portion of the tech-using community) would like is to be able to access this bandwidth on demand, anywhere. Do you believe there would be 10,000 users in a wingle WiMax coverage area? If so, they are going to need 30,000Mb/sec to keep everyone working at this speed.

      Microcells work for cell phones, but the rules are different.

      Audio Calls are 64k, much less then 3Mb/sec for digital transfer. So.. Your right. I know for WIFI there is no QoS either. I'm not sure 4G / WIMAX has QoS built in. (wants to strangle IEEE, even if I am a full member)

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday October 10, 2008 @11:17PM (#25336051)
    So why will Sprint "lose its advantage" if it doesn't ramp up quickly? Seriously, is ATT or Comcast on the verge of offering some great new service that's going to make WiMax obsolete? Is there some competitor to Sprint that is going to build out first? I would love it if either of those possibilities were true, but the truth is that these companies are exceedingly conservative and slow to upgrade. Sprint could take the next decade doing a nationwide roll-out and probably not lose too much market share.
    • by bendodge (998616)

      The folks who paid billions for the 700MHz C-block (Verizon) are required to do something "open" with it, and soon.

      • They are going to "openly" lobby, sue, and whatever other legal wrangling they can pull to get out of any conditions of sale they don't care to implement.

        • by nasch (598556)

          My guess is they'll just do what they want with it, while saying that they're complying with the terms of the license, and the FCC will let them get away with it. Then Google or EFF or somebody will sue over it, and 3-10 years later maybe something will be opened up.

    • If you Google search you will see that Sprint is in the current process of merging with Clearwire and Comcast is providing a billion dollars to the deal. So Comcast no. But ATT and Verizon are working on their 4G buildouts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I suspect that that statement is largely the "OMG CONSTANTURGENCY!!!" flavor that people seem disturbingly enamored of; but not entirely.

      The likely competition comes, not from some other WiMax buildout; but from other cellular data services. Most are inferior to Sprint's offering in terms of price, longterm contracts, and in many cases speed; but computers and phones with the necessary hardware built in are pretty common, and you can get at least dialup speeds virtually everywhere(yes, I know, there are e
    • HDSPA [wikipedia.org] upgrade to 3G WCDMA network. Offers down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.4 Mbit/s to quote Wikipedia. In Europe several telecom providers have already upgraded their networks to support HDSPA and offer speeds up to 3.6 Mbit/s and some over it. So Sprint looses the edge when ATT and T-Mobile upgrade their networks to support HDSPA.
      • by nasch (598556)

        So Sprint looses the edge when ATT and T-Mobile upgrade their networks to support HDSPA.

        Sounds like an ad slogan. Sprint: Loose the Edge!

    • So why will Sprint "lose its advantage" if it doesn't ramp up quickly?

      I think the more appropriate term is perceived technological lead... If Sprint's venture takes too long to gain coverage and market acceptance, they will fall victim to all the WiMAX providers being subsidized by the USDA to bring broadband to rural areas.

    • by Yfrwlf (998822)
      By whom, exactly, due to a severe lack in competition in the U.S..
  • but if Sprint handles this the way they handle their cell phone business, they'll "monetize" it into near-uselessness.
  • Clearwire is WiMax, right? How is it not America's first WiMax network? I'm so confused...
    • by sg3000 (87992) * <[moc.cam] [ta] [cilbup_gs]> on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:50AM (#25336681)

      Clearwire deployed a proprietary broadband wireless access network based on Nextnet's technology [cnn.com]. Nextnet was later bought by Motorola, who is a major infrastructure vendor for WiMAX, and Clearwire, as part of their merger with Sprint Xohm, will be switching to WiMAX.

      WiMAX has two major variants: those based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard (called 16d or fixed WiMAX) and those based on the newer IEEE 802.16e-2005 (called 16e or mobile WiMAX) standard. There have been some small, limited build-outs of 16d, but 16e is destined to be much bigger, and that's why this is a big deal.

      Sprint has been the primary backer of 16e because they acquired a lot of 2.5 GHz unpaired spectrum from their Nextel acquisition. With the launch of Sprint's Baltimore network, they've proven that a large, citywide network can deliver on the promises of WiMAX. This is a huge step forward for mobile broadband wireless access.

  • Wireless networks with all the infrastructure running and no users have really great bandwidth. What's it going to be like under load?

  • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:47AM (#25336659) Homepage

    I've browsed through the WiMax standards, and they almost make ATM look elegant. A connection-base technology with no less than three incompatible encapsulations. Disconnected operation is simulated by establishing connections to a back-end server and running bridging software there.

    I'm looking forward to the day when multiple implementations of WiMax are available and the interoperability issues start showing up...

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm looking forward to the day when multiple implementations of WiMax are available and the interoperability issues start showing up...

      I wouldn't count on that, as most operators are going with LTE [wikipedia.org], not WiMax.

  • in Mexico City we have had Wimax since 2002, with a smallish ISP now called E-go. I used it in 2003-2004 at work, and this year it was my main access for several months. Quite comparable to broadband, if you are in well covered areas.

    • 802.16e-2005, the standard that Sprint is using, was ratified in 2005. So you certainly weren't using it in 2003-2004.

  • While wireless broadband is cool, I'm not convinced yet... With wireless everyone in connected to the same base station shares the available spectrum and bandwith. There's no way around that, ever.

    I like 3G (live in Helsinki). I can open up Google Maps or check when the next bus leaves on my mobile. But for anything more serious I prefer a short range wireless tech (WiFi) or good old RJ45.

    So will these technologies work well with hundreds of simultaneous users? Personally I still think there's a long way to

  • To me, the critical difference between Sprint/Clearwire's WiMax and competing cellular data is that they don't care about VOIP. It's A-OK. How long until Verizon allows VOIP (or unlimited voice time) on their plans? Plus, latency is reasonable in WiMax so VOIP will actually work. This hasn't been mentioned much -- in TFA, it's covered towards the end.
    • Actually VOIP is very much a big part. It's just that there currently isn't any devices on the market as of yet. And not to mention the Sprint/Clearwire merger has yet to fully happen. Ever think that once the merger happens that maybe some devices will "appear" on the market?
  • ...I'm going to wait for a flat-rate option for data that isn't meant for carriers.

  • A lot of posts here are listing why Xohm is good/bad compared to other cell networks but that's not even half of it. Xohm is also trying to enter the home user market, and I think they're going to do well.

    I've used Xohm (briefly, at a demo last weekend) and will likely switch to them because although their service is slower than cable (the only option for us Baltimore residents is Comcast), it still plays Youtube videos faster than they play, which is pretty much all I ask for. The best thing about Xohm i

    • One thing I've wondered about the idea of wireless internet access for the masses is, what happens when you have 2000+ people in a single city block (think of places like NYC, LA, Chicago, etc) trying to use a wireless Internet service? Does the system get completely bogged down with lag?

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