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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 29, 2008 7:26 AM

What Excites Me About XOHM

Sometimes I'm a little hard on the wireless world. I feel like I need to defend the rightful place of fiber in relation to the complementary role of wireless. But last week at the NARUC conference in Portland I had the opportunity to share a panel with Ali Tabassi, VP of technology development at Sprint Nextel, and not only learn more about but also get excited by the possibilities of the new XOHM network.

XOHM will be the first mobile WiMAX network in the US and represents a collaboration between Sprint Nextel, Clearwire, Comcast, Time Warner, Intel, Google, and Bright House.

It's slated to launch in its first test market, Baltimore, in September, then in DC and Chicago, eventually spreading out to a nationwide rollout.

There are three primary aspects of XOHM that have captured my attention:

Speed - While you never really know how fast it will really be until it's deployed and people are using it, tests have shown XOHM capable of delivering 3-5Mbps down and 1-2Mbps up. Assuming these numbers hold and aren't greatly affected by the number of users online at any given part of the day, then XOHM may be able to provide a near-term competitor to wireline service as it'll be delivering speeds that fit roughly in between that of DSL and cable. Certainly a big step up from the sub-1Mbps I tend to realize on my wireless Verizon modem.

Flexibility - On the panel, Ali shared that access to XOHM will be available in many different pricing models. You can sign up for a monthly service, or only have to pay for access by the day or even the hour. So no longer having to pay for a month's worth of service when you only need it for a couple of days, and vice versa now you can subscribe monthly instead of ponying up more money each day you need access while on the road.

Portability - This is the piece that's really interesting. As far as I know, XOHM will be the most portable broadband service ever. Once you sign up, you can setup a special wireless router in your home or you can use it through a WiMAX modem on your laptop or you can access the Internet through your WiMAX-enabled phone or handheld PC, all over the same service. While there are phones out today you can plug your computer into for wireless access, none are as aggressively portable as XOHM promises to be and none offer the capacity of XOHM to potentially replace your wireline connection in the near-term.

I'm still a believer that long-term fiber is the answer, but for the immediate future once XOHM launches I'm going to be seriously considering jumping onto the wireless bandwagon. Though I haven't yet seen any specific prices, I have to imagine that between the $70 I pay Comcast for my cable modem service and the $60 I pay Verizon for my wireless connectivity, that there's money to be saved by moving to XOHM.

But only time will tell as mobile WiMAX has long been promised but never realized. I won't be able to move to a wireless-only service if the quality isn't reliable enough. And if I want anytime, anywhere access, I'll likely have to hold on to my Verizon wireless connection until XOHM has more time to be built out everywhere.

Even still, this is the kind of wireless development I can get behind. So good luck, XOHM! Let's see if you can make it happen.

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