Sprint plans wireless net


NEW YORK -- Sprint Nextel Corp. said yesterday that it would spend as much as $3 billion over the next two years on a new high-speed wireless data network that's based on the new WiMax technology.

Unlike the WiFi standard that provides wireless Internet access in such places as airports and coffee shops, a WiMax signal can cover whole cities or regions.

The third-largest U.S. mobile-phone service provider will spend $1 billion next year and $1.5 billion to $2 billion in 2008, Sprint chief executive Gary D. Forsee told a news conference in New York.

Sprint, of Reston, Va., will order equipment from Motorola Inc. and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Sprint is aiming to get ahead in building a network on a new technology that Intel Corp. is trying to commercialize to increase the use of notebook computers for wireless access.

WiMax is a wireless technology that broadcasts Internet signals up to 30 miles, allowing consumers to connect anywhere in a city. Intel has sponsored the building of test wireless networks to promote service that can connect to Intel chips in notebook computers.

Sprint will use the 2.5 gigahertz frequency spectrum it acquired in the purchase of Nextel Communications Inc. to create the new network.

Sprint expects a test service will be running by the fourth quarter of 2007. The company plans to have 100 million people covered by the service in 2008.

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