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With the development of worldwide standards for WiMax, the 2.5GHz band is of strategic importance in the US for applications ranging from broadband voice, data and video to backhaul.

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) owns most of the bandwidth in the 2.5GHz band, and as a condition to approval of the merger, one of the FCC's requirements was that Sprint meet certain milestones in this frequency. These include offering service to at least 15 million Americans by 2009 and adding 15 million more by 2011.

Light Reading's Carmen Noble asks if the 2.5GHz band is ready for deployment of services:

Cisco's Take: According to Larry Lang, general manager and vice president of the mobile wireless group, Sprint has range issues with the 2.5GHz band. While chip solutions will be available in a few years, "Anything they deployed right now would be crap," Lang says.

WiMax? CDMA? Vicki Warker, vice president of business solutions marketing and products says that Sprint plans for 2.5GHz spectrum "sometime mid-year". Noble notes that the spectrum will likely be used for "some version of CDMA or WiMax". Motorola WiMax equipment is pegged to be trialed by Sprint in Q2. Cisco's Lang is quoted saying "The logical thing would be for Sprint to do some version of CDMA, but there's the issue that Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) is the Tony Soprano of CDMA. But Sprint could go to Intel Corp. (INTC) [for WiMax] and get production."

And Then There's IPWireless: Sprint has invested $14 million in IPWireless (broadband over UMTS TD-CDMA) and is trialing equipment in Washington DC. But the jury's still out with them; according to Madelyn Smith Orfitelli, director of corporate communications at IPWireless: "It's not like we know and we're not telling. They really haven't made a decision yet."

Source: What Will Sprint Do With Its 2.5GHz Obligations? (S)