I couldn't help but wonder what WiMAX 4G was and why I should be interested in it. To understand its significance, I decided to do some Internet searches. What I learned is, WiMAX speeds are generally considered to be 4 to 5 times faster than 3G, but on Sprint’s official site, they indicate WiMAX speeds are up to 10 times faster than 3G. Ultimately, WiMAX speeds will rival DSL and cable broadband on your desktop computer. Just think of what that could do for streaming video, live TV and video conferencing on your phone. 4G Systems Within the United States, there are two major systems using 4G mobile technology. One is known as WiMAX and is backed by Clearwire, a firm whose majority owner is Sprint Nextel. They began testing services in Baltimore in 2008 and then expanded into new major markets in 2009. Sprint intends to have 80 cities covered by the end of 2010. The rival system, Long Term Evolution or LTE, is backed mainly by Verizon. They are expected to begin testing LTE this year, but it will not be available for widespread use on Verizon until 2012. Standards The term 4G is a broad term which does not meet any standards, but that will change. Wikipedia 4G Article. A 4G cellular system must have target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access, according to the ITU requirements. The world's first publicly available LTE service was opened in the two Scandinavian capitals - Stockholm and Oslo a couple of months ago on the December 14, 2009, and was branded 4G. The Mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) mobile wireless broadband access (MWBA) standard is sometimes branded 4G. It offers peak data rates of 128 Mbit/s downlink and 56 Mbit/s uplink over 20 MHz wide channels. The IEEE 802.16m evolution of 802.16e is under development, with the objective to fulfill the IMT-Advanced criteria of 1000 Mbit/s for stationary reception and 100 Mbit/s for mobile reception. 4-12-2010 - Update: Intel, Motorola, Samsung and more join forces to support WiMAX 2 IEEE pushing 802.16m WiMAX to 1Gbps, hopes to converge with 4G Goal The goal of 4G will be to replace the entire core of cellular networks with a cellular network based on the IP (Internet Protocol) for video, packet data utilizing Voice over IP (VoIP) and multimedia services. History Below are a few news articles that go back almost 5 years about Sprint and WiMAX. I only mention these, because some people think Sprint just started working on WiMAX. 6-30-2005 - WiMAX begins to gel at Sprint. Cell phone operator Sprint plans to begin testing next-generation WiMAX handsets and other WiMAX equipment from Motorola, a sign that Sprint's future network plans are falling into place. 12-8-2005 - Mobile WiMAX gets green light. An industry standards group has approved a new specification for WiMAX that includes mobility support, thus paving the way for chipmakers and device manufacturers to start working on new products. The standard, called 802.16e was finalized two months ago, but it was formally ratified on Wednesday by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. WiMAX is considered a promising next-generation wireless technology because it supports high data rates and has a long transmission reach. 8-8-2006 - Sprint to use WiMAX for 4G wireless network. Sprint executives said during a press briefing here that the company plans to spend about $1 billion on the network in 2007. It will spend another $1.5 billion to $2 billion in 2008. The new fourth-generation, or 4G, network is expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2007. About 100 million people will have access to the network by the end of 2008, the company said. 5-7-2008 - Sprint Nextel and Clearwire detail 4G plans. Sprint Nextel and Clearwire are combining network assets to build a new nationwide 4G wireless network that the companies say has huge benefits for each of them. Until now, Sprint and Clearwire have been on separate paths to build nationwide broadband wireless networks using WiMAX, an IP technology that can blanket entire cities and provides more than five times the speed of 3G wireless networks. Now they are joining forces and creating a new company that will have access to more wireless spectrum than any other company in the entire country. 12-1-2008 - Clearwire-Sprint Nextel unveils new brand. Clearwire and Sprint-Nextel announced Monday they have completed their joint-venture transaction and will offer mobile WiMAX service under the "Clear" brand. Comparison Chart Comparison Chart of Wireless standards. How WiMAX works Video demonstration of WiMAX by Intel. Building WiMAX Networks Sprint is the only national wireless network to offer 4G. It is available now in 33 cities and that is expected to more than double this year, to over 80 cities. WiMAX networks are fairly inexpensive and easy to set up, and that’s because the base stations can be installed on current cellular towers and on towers at the top of buildings. 1-12-2010 - A rumor that Wal-Mart and Sprint plan to work together in an effort to grow the nationwide WiMAX network. This includes placing WiMAX towers on the top of all Wal-Mart locations. Many stores overlap each other in a 30-50 mile radius. Essentially, this would be enough to cover a good chunk of the United States. Plus, this would not cost nearly as much as erecting towers and dealing with hassles like zoning permissions. This is nothing new as I found articles going back to 2004 stating that Wal-Mart wanted to install base stations attached to all of its stores "to bestow broadband Internet access upon a good portion of the US".