Is WiMax All Washed Up? An Open LetterS

Dear Sprint and Intel,
I'm sorry to hear about your recent WiMax delays and struggles, I really am. The Xohm service was originally scheduled to launch this month, but all you've given us are a few prototypes and half-baked demos in controlled environments—the public has yet to see the technology truly in action. WiMax in general and Xohm in particular have the potential for greatness, but you guys seem to have lost your way. Here are all the signs that WiMax may be washed up:

• When the rollout is already slower than people initially hoped, the aforementioned delays are never good.

• Aside from the Nokia N810, Asus Eee PC and Everex Cloudbook, Xohm lacks any mainstream WiMax-compliant devices, and we were hoping CTIA 2008 would be a good time to hear about them. An infrastructure is only as good as its end-user products (and vice-versa).

• Speaking of that, where are Intel's WiMax-compatible chips? What about the 20% of 2008 devices scheduled to have WiMax? What about the Montevina chipsets allegedly eagerly awaited by Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic and Toshiba? WiMax needs some love from its $2 billion champion.

• Xohm partners we spoke to were under the impression that a full Xohm demo would be set up for CTIA. However, Wired's Joe Brown attended Nokia's press conference and noted the N810 WiMax Edition Tablet was demoed over Wi-Fi. What's up with that?

• Similarly, while previewing the N810's HAVA Player at Nokia's booth, the Hava rep told me he was using Wi-Fi for demos because the Xohm booth just across the hall didn't have a strong enough WiMax signal. Laptop Magazine even suffered dropped connections inside the Xohm booth. What ever happened to 10Mbps at 10 kilometers?

• The WiMax demos that did work seemed promising, but the people running the booth operated with a healthy amount of paranoia. We weren't allowed to get too hands-on and they tried to kill our photos, suggesting perhaps things weren't as fully functional as they seemed.

• An early WiMax service rolled out in Australia last month suffered an EPIC FAIL, quickly closed up shop and prompted the CEO to say "WiMax may not work." Could Xohm be suffering from similar problems?

• WiMax's direct 4G competition, LTE, chosen by America's two biggest and most powerful wireless carriers, already seems to be gaining steam, not to mention showing well in recent demos.

So guys, anything we can do to help? I want the future of technology to actually make it to the future. Lord knows I'd feel better knowing I could play World of Warcraft lag-free while sitting in the middle of the Mojave Desert, not that I own WoW or plan to visit the Mojave Desert, but you never know. Seriously, just give me my damn WiMax already!!

Adrian Covert