Sprint Plans First WiMAX Handset in First Half

Sprint-Nextel Corp. will release a WiMAX-capable handset – the first in the wild in the United States – in the first half of the year.

The WiMAX handset has been rumored since before CES in January, reportedly to be a touchscreen Google Android device, possibly dubbed the “Supersonic,” designed by HTC.

Very few details are forthcoming, although it’s almost certainly to be a dual-mode device that either allows roaming between Sprint’s existing CDMA voice network and WiMAX, likely via VoIP; or compartmentalizes voice on CDMA; either way, it should enable data roaming seamlessly across Sprint’s EV-DO Rev. and the WiMAX footprint.

Sprint’s WiMAX service, which runs on the Clearwire network, should reach close to 120 million people by the end of the year if rollout plans come to fruition. It currently reaches 27 markets and 30 million people. The service offers an average downlink speed of 3 to 6mbps, with a peak capability of 10mbps.

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