When Sprint’s Xohm launched in Baltimore earlier in the week, the launch raised some questions about the future.
Are there usage restrictions? Are there more devices coming? What about long-term pricing? Where and when will other markets launch?
Atish Gude, senior vice president for mobile broadband operations for Xohm, answered some of those questions Thursday in his keynote to WiMAX World 2008. Others didn’t get answers.
First, the nagging question about restrictions on use, to which Gude waffled a little. Xohm will be open to all applications and content, he said, but the operator may have to restrict use when network congestion takes place. He said that might occur when one user is gobbling bandwidth to the detriment of other users.
“We’ll apply certain rules in times of congestion,” he said, “to protect the rights of the many.” Xohm is working on what those rules will be, he added.
Xohm launched with pricing plans that included a $10 day pass and monthly plans for unlimited in-home, mobile use or combined home-mobile usage. The monthly plans range in price from $35/month for home use, $45 for “on-the-go” use and $65 for a combination, with promotions also available. Gude said the operator also plans on having an annual contract but hasn’t decided what that will be or when it will be offered.
The WiMAX operator, which launched with USB dongles and customer-premise equipment (CPEs), also will start selling next week some devices with WiMAX embedded in them, Gude said. He didn’t specify what those devices will be, but a slide in his presentation showed laptops, gaming devices, digital camcorders, dual-mode handsets and in-car entertainment devices.
Gude, who called Xohm “a new era for the mobile Internet,” said consumer electronics devices are the center of the operator’s device strategy.
What about Xohm’s pending launch in Chicago, where Motorola has turned up 600 base stations and was demonstrating WiMAX this week? Again, Gude declined to say when that might take place, only saying that Chicago is a much larger market than Baltimore and more complex to launch.
Samsung Telecommunications is Xohm’s equipment supplier for Baltimore. Hwan Chung, Samsung’s senior vice president for the Americas, said the company also is building out Xohm in Washington, D.C., Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, New York and Providence. Samsung also is working with WiMAX carriers like Korea Telecom, Russia’s Scartel and KDDI’s UQ Communications.
Gude admitted that Xohm still needs to prove itself, to prove that mobile access is important to a large audience. He said the traditional cellular operators only serve the high-end with Internet access because of high prices, leaving a much larger market Xohm wants to tap into.
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