A Critical Look at WiFi's Successor

The implementation of WiMAX technology has been touted as the bridge to the digital divide. And while some less developed countries have taken advantage of its cost-effectiveness, U.S. companies seem more interested in the bottom line.
October 2, 2008, 11am PDT | Judy Chang
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"Earlier this week, Baltimore became the first American WiMAX city. To connect to the service, citizens have to use Sprint, which is charging $35 per month for home access and $45 per month for roaming connections. This is hardly more cost-effective than Wi-Fi. In fact, Comcast's high-speed Internet is actually less expensive than Sprint's WiMAX – its prices start at $20 per month. Sprint is also targeting people with less discretionary income: like MetroPCS, a cell phone provider, users don't need to sign a contract with Sprint. And they can obtain daily passes, which cost an outlandish $10, if they can't commit to $35 or $45 each month.

The bill isn't tallied yet: on top of the initial charge, you need a $60 laptop card or an $80 modem to use the network.

According to countless reports, WiMAX should be cheaper than Wi-Fi. But in Baltimore, Sprint is poised to make a fortune off the technology, without charging any less than its Wi-Fi competitors."

Companies, of course, should (and will) profit from WiMAX technology. But while Sprint capitalizes off techies who are stoked about WiMAX's far-reaching capabilities, it should also provide more affordable options to people with lower incomes."

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Published on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in Next American City
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