Last week, we looked into what Sprint’s announcement of its first LTE-capable smartphones would mean for the future of its WiMAX network. We heard from our source that Sprint wasn’t rushing to put an end to WiMAX, and that we’d continue to see it supported as the carrier started getting more serious about LTE. There may be more to it than that, though, as now we’ve heard from a Sprint exec who claims that the carrier has decided not to release any more WiMAX smartphones.
This exec is none other than David Owens, the same Sprint VP who gained notoriety last week for his comments on Microsoft and Windows Phone. According to him, WiMAX-based devices that were in the pipeline have now seen their release plans halted.
From one standpoint, that move sounds a bit risky, as it threatens to put Sprint in a position where its LTE network isn’t yet widely available to its subscribers, leaving many unable to fully enjoy the latest phones that are arriving. For a time, the carrier’s existing stable of WiMAX devices will suffice, but eventually they’ll really start to show their age.
On the flip side, having no new WiMAX phones sounds like a smart way to speed the roll-out of LTE. The longer new WiMAX devices are still being sold, the longer Sprint will have to keep supporting the network, and the fewer resources will be available to LTE.