Sprint Launches Broadband Wireless Service

BOSTON (05/08/2000) - Sprint Corp. today launched a broadband fixed wireless service, making it the last of the big three national carriers to take to the airwaves in order to provide such a service end-to-end without using local telephone companies.

Sprint so far is offering its Sprint Broadband Direct service only in the Phoenix market. But David Hawley, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said he expects the company to quickly roll out the service nationwide.

Hawley said he was "a bit disappointed" that Sprint didn't include voice service along with high-speed Internet access. He said the reason could be that the company acquired its fixed wireless licenses only last summer and is still working on the technology to offer both voice and data.

Sprint priced its business fixed wireless service - which provides a 1M- to 2M-bit/sec. (with burst speeds up to 5M bit/sec.) connection - at $89.85 per month for five IP addresses. More IP addresses can be obtained for an additional charge, Sprint said.

Both Sprint and MCI WorldCom Inc. use spectrum in the 2,500- to 2,690-MHz frequency range - which they spent billions of dollars to acquire - for their fixed wireless services. The two carriers, which plan to merge, face the possibility that spectrum-hungry mobile operators could capture some of this bandwidth at an international conference this month.

The 180 member nations of the International Telecommunications Union will consider proposals to offer mobile broadband wireless services in the 2,550- to 2,690-MHz band at the World Radio Conference which opened today in Istanbul, Turkey. Hawley said it would be a "huge setback" to Sprint and MCI if the ITU decided to allow mobile operations in this band, calling it "difficult" for the two types of services to exist in the same band.

AT&T uses spectrum in a lower frequency range.

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