Houston, TX has decided to build a city-wide WiMAX network which will span 640 square miles. The WiMAX network (Sprint’s 4G network) will take the place of a Wi-Fi network the government of Houston was planning to install four years ago at a much steeper price.
Execution of the program will cost $6.4 million and will provide IP coverage, thus eliminating costly T1 lines hereto utilized to keep the city running. There will be enough bandwidth left over to provide internet service to certain underserved neighborhoods.
Houston Program Manager Brian Anderson had the following to say about the execution of the WiMAX plan:
“I think the payback time is easily within 24 months. We are looking to reduce costs by reducing commercial expenses and using our own network. The quantifiable dollars and cents is the T1 replacement. That’s where the budget director can see a direct reduction in costs.”
This windfall comes at a particularly auspicious time for Sprint and Clearwire. Industry analysts have been predicting an increase in the popularity of Verizon and AT&T’s 4G LTE networks to the point where it will overtake WiMAX’s customer base by 2012. Recent speed tests have suggested that LTE is significantly faster than WiMAX, and with AT&T’s plans to purchase T-Mobile, Sprint could soon be relegated to a distance third place in terms of customer base.
Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city and is growing rapidly. It is arguably the most economically powerful big city in the country, and other cities are likely to follow its example. This is truly welcome news for Sprint.