Video: Using WiMax on Nokia N810, other devices, in Baltimore

It's an early example of using the faster wireless service on a personal mobile device

The Nokia N810, one of the first in a new category of mobile Internet devices, will be able to play video and music and browse the Internet at mobile WiMax speeds, based on live demonstrations over the faster wireless service in Baltimore recently.

The following video shows the device, to be sold by the end of the month for $499. In one test, it operated over a WiMax downlink at 3.9 Mbit/sec. from inside a townhouse in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The nearest WiMax antenna, part of the network being built in Baltimore, was located three blocks away. The N810 will function in both WiMax and Wi-Fi modes.

Other demonstrations of WiMax, being provided by the Sprint Nextel Corp. Xohm unit, included bus tours through mid-rise buildings along the harbor front as well as taxi boat tours over the Inner Harbor. Most of the demonstrations included speed tests of WiMax with air cards or embedded WiMax chipsets from Intel Corp. inside various laptops, with downlink speeds of more than 3 Mbit/sec.

Sprint has been advertising the average downlink speeds of the Xohm network at 2Mbit/sec. to 4 Mbit/sec. The company won't disclose how many users have signed up for the service, which has been operating in Baltimore for nearly two weeks.

During the harbor water taxi demonstration, the downlink speeds sometimes fell below 2 Mbit/sec. Sprint and Intel engineers said the lower throughput was due to the propagation characteristics of wireless signals over water. Water conducts the signals well, meaning the signal can travel farther than intended. However, all types of radio signals can interfere with one another over water, a common problem for radio engineers.

The biggest concern for initial users on the Baltimore Xohm network appears to be with gaps in service on land, where the network is not completely built out, based on several interviews with Sprint officials including President Barry West. The network is about 70% finished, and gaps are being addressed, West said. Baltimore was chosen partly because it is on the water, in order to give engineers a challenge, West said.

Xohm officials showed off the Nokia N810 and various laptops running over WiMax in Baltimore

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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