Sprint brings more partners aboard for WiMAX rollout

Companies will specialize in location-based WiMAX services

Sprint Nextel has signed on several companies to help deliver location-based services for its impending WiMAX launch.

The basic idea behind the services is to give users specific information, via their mobile devices, based on where they're located at a given time. For instance, users in an unfamiliar area can use their WiMAX device to find local restaurants, movie theatres or events nearby.

Sprint's primary partner in rolling out the location-based services is uLocate Communications, a US-based company that will use its Where mobile platform to provide access to local restaurant reviews, price comparisons for local gas stations and even nearby friends who also are using Where. Using GPS capabilities, Where lets users log on to several Web sites that specialize in delivering location-based information, such as Yelp (reviews of restaurants, doctors and entertainment hot spots) and Eventful (information about local events).

Other companies that will be helping Sprint deliver its location-based WiMAX services include Topix, which gives users location-specific local news; NAVTEQ, which delivers real-time traffic updates; and AccuWeather, which provides weather updates.

Sprint is betting heavily that WiMAX will help it and its partners in the Clearwire coalition gain an edge in the mobile broadband market by delivering 4G services at least two years before most carriers will start rolling out Long Term Evolution (LTE) services.

Sprint currently plans to offer its first commercial WiMAX services in September in Baltimore, with launches in Washington, D.C., and Chicago scheduled for later in the fourth quarter. The company says other major metropolitan areas shouldn't expect WiMAX to be available until at least next year.

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