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Sprint and Microsoft to announce WiMax smartphone?

Rumors have been flying around about what to expect from Sprint's, self proclaimed, "must attend" event on January 6th. The day before CES, Sprint, along with LG and Microsoft, will be making some sort of big presentation. Information Weekly believes that the event will involve some sort of WiMax announcement, since that's Sprint's latest major project. Being that Sprint CEO, Dan Hesse, and Microsoft CEO, Steve Balmer, will both be speaking, the most probable outcome will be some sort of WiMax powered Windows Mobile smartphone. Perhaps the device is being made by LG, which would explain their involvement.

Sprint has said that WiMax enabled phones are in the plans for 2010, so announcing one on January 6th would make sense. It's probably safe to assume that such a device would also be able to fall back onto 3G where 4G is not available. It will be interesting to see how such a phone would work in the future, should Sprint and Clear decide to shift their WiMax network over to LTE. As reported on Mobile Burn back in Septemeber, Clear CEO, Bill Morrow said that should the industry prefer LTE down the road, the switch could be done with a software upgrade, since many of their routers support both standards. He claims "We're the only carrier than can do this. We'll do what's right for the business. Whether it's LTE, WiMAX, future technology 'X,' it doesn't matter to me."

Should Sprint release a WiMax phone in two weeks, would a simple software upgrade allow the phone to adapt to a future network change? Or would new hardware be required, leaving customers in the dust? Maybe the phone used to demonstrate (if that happens) will be running an early build of Windows Mobile 7. Either way, we're gonna have to wait till CES to find out. For now, this is all just speculation.

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