With Xohm, Sprint will allow any WiMax-compliant device to run on the network, he said. End users will buy the devices themselves, probably at a variety of retail stores and hopefully for a low price because vendors expect the cost of WiMax chips to drop dramatically, like Wi-Fi. "Since I've got no money in you, I don't need a contract," West said. That opens the door to a wide array of new pricing scenarios. End users could pay for the day, week, month or on a regular subscription, he said.
While West declined to cite specific prices, he said a monthly subscription to Xohm will be comparable to existing DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) rates.
Initially, Sprint will sell PC cards and modems but by the end of this year as many as ten different kinds of devices could be available, he said. Navigation and gaming devices are possibilities, he said.
If the market has any doubts about Sprint's plans for the network, it should rest assured that regardless, the future of WiMax isn't uncertain, panelists said. "WiMax is bigger than Sprint," said Sriram Viswanathan, vice president and general manager for Intel Capital and for Intel's WiMax business.
Motorola alone has 17 contracts for networks and is involved in 60 trials, said Fred Wright, senior vice president and general manager at Motorola. "This technology is real, it's not a fairy tale," he said.