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Originally published August 17, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 19, 2007 at 12:15 PM

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Sprint brands its WiMax Xohm

For the past year, Sprint Nextel has been developing a new wireless broadband network technology called WiMax that's expected to allow an...

Seattle Times technology reporter

For the past year, Sprint Nextel has been developing a new wireless broadband network technology called WiMax that's expected to allow an easy connection to the Internet from all kinds of devices.

On Thursday, it came up with a name for it: Xohm.

"We are going where no telecom company has ever gone — the open Internet — and we are making a name for ourselves as a wireless innovator, so much so that we are officially changing the name of the business unit," said Barry West, the company's chief technology officer and president of 4G mobile broadband.

Sprint, which will work with Kirkland-based Clearwire to sell Xohm to subscribers, officially unveiled the brand name at a briefing for news media and investors.

West made his statement about innovation in a video distributed to employees of the Reston, Va.-based company on Tuesday. The three-minute clip was later posted on YouTube.

Xohm (pronounced "Zoam") is at least two years in the making. In 2005, Sprint bought Nextel Communications, gaining a sizable chunk of airwaves ideal for rolling out mobile broadband.

Last year, it announced that it chose WiMax, an emerging technology, to deliver it.

On Thursday, Sprint gave more details as it gets ready to launch the service in two markets — in Chicago and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area — later this year. Other commercial launches are expected during the first half of 2008.

The Xohm update comes a month after Sprint and Clearwire, which is also building a nationwide WiMax network, signed a letter of intent to jointly build one network, allowing their customers to roam from one to the other. The hope is that together they can build a network faster and at a lower cost.

To do so, the two companies said they had to come up with a so-called "ingredient" brand, recognizable across both networks.

Xohm will be that link, most likely phrased as "Xohm from Sprint," and "Xohm, powered by Clearwire."

"Whether customers are on Sprint's network or in Clearwire's territory, they'll know they can get the same type of service," said Helen Chung, a Clearwire spokeswoman.

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She added that Clearwire will maintain the Clearwire brand and that Xohm won't apply to its international markets.

The letter of intent between Clearwire and Sprint is still pending final approval.

During Thursday's investor conference, West said there isn't any meaning behind the name but that it could stand for "no resistance" because "ohm" is a measurement of electrical resistance.

He said it was more interesting to note that Xohm was about the Internet, and a new business model for the traditional telecom company.

Sprint made a step toward that goal recently when it partnered with Google to build its portal for the WiMax, or Xohm, service. Google and Sprint will share advertising revenue from that portal, West added.

For Sprint, an advertising model would be much different from the company's cellphone roots, where it builds a network and makes money off services sold to subscribers.

"We want to make Xohm not only a household name, but an Internet destination, like the folks at Google," West said.

Beyond the branding, Sprint made other announcements, including some milestones it wants to reach over the next few years:

• It expects to have WiMax service available to as many as 100 million people by the end of 2008 (Clearwire will be responsible for 30 million of them).

• WiMax is expected to contribute $2.5 billion in revenues in 2010.

• It expects to invest $2.5 billion into its WiMax network through the end of 2008. Beyond that, the company may extend coverage, depending on its success, to cover 125 million people by 2010. That would cost about $2.5 billion more.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published August 17, 2007, was corrected August 19, 2007. Sprint Nextel said on Thursday the brand name for its new WiMax service would be Xohm. The brand will be shared with Kirkland-based Clearwire, which will use the tag line "Xohm, powered by Clearwire," not "Clearwire, powered by Xohm" as originally reported.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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