South Korea's homegrown portable Internet service, called WiBro here and known as mobile WiMax around the globe, is being deployed in the United States.
Samsung Electronics, one of the major Korean developers of WiBro, Wednesday forged an alliance with 3 firms Sprint Nextel, Intel and Motorola _ for the launch of WiBro in the U.S.
WiBro lets people on the road remain hooked up to the Internet at the speed of a fixed-line broadband connection. Its speed is fast enough to download dozens of MP3 files in a minute.
Sprint Nextel, the third-largest U.S. cellular service provider, plans to invest as much as $3 billion to commercially roll out the Internet-on-the-go services in 2008.
Sprint aims to have 100 million people covered by the go-anywhere Internet application in 2008. A test service will be up and running by the fourth quarter of next year.
Together with Intel and Motorola, Samsung will provide Sprint with base station equipment, terminals and chipsets for WiBro, which debuted in Korea late June.
``This is a milestone decision. I am sure Sprint will play a pivotal role in the worldwide initiative for telecom renovation on the back of WiBro,'' Samsung president Lee Ki-tae said.
``Sprint's move will have an impact far beyond U.S. shores _ it will help WiBro tap into other nations down the road,'' the Samsung lifer projected.
Experts concur that Sprint's embrace of WiBro will bode well for its expansion.
``It is meaningful that the locally-developed WiBro is being adopted as a backbone network of the U.S., the country that has exported to Korea most of our modern telecom techniques,'' said Kim Kyung-mo, an analyst at Mirae Asset.
``Other overseas telecom firms are expected to follow Sprint. In other words, WiBro will be able to enjoy a halo effect in its globalization efforts thanks to Sprint's high profile,'' he added.
Korea's dynamic telecom duo of KT and SK Telecom embarked on WiBro in late June and the next-generation services presently cover some areas of Seoul and Pundang, Kyonggi Province.
KT, the country's foremost landline operator, will expand the WiBro service range across the capital by the end of this year before going nationwide.
Samsung is developing a WiBro terminal, which can double as a cell phone, with the aim of completing the task early next year, to boost the viability of the futuristic service.