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Sprint and DISH Network Cut the Broadband Cord

For years consumers have relied on that standby -- broadband delivered via cable or DSL service -- to get high-speed Internet access from home. That's about to change thanks to a trial program from Sprint and DISH Network, which are together developing a trial service that will offer home users high-speed Internet access via Sprint's wireless network. The pilot project will initially be rolled out in Corpus Christi, Texas in mid-2014, with additional markets to come shortly after.

The groundbreaking partnership involves hardware which can be mounted either outside or inside depending on the specifics of the location. This hardware includes high-gain antennas which can access a 4G LTE wireless signal on Sprint's network. Devices such as laptops and smart phones will be able to connect to Sprint's router via existing Wi-Fi technology, while DISH's army of technicians will be in charge of installing the hardware in customers' homes.

At its most basic level, this move is a clear acknowledgement that wired broadband simply isn't an option for a wide range of consumers. Complaints about erratic cable and DSL are legendary, and consumers who live in more rural areas often can't get broadband access at all. Once it's rolled out to the masses, the Sprint-DISH alliance should make broadband more ubiquitous than ever -- and at least one observer is cautiously optimistic that there's more to come from these two down the line.

On a deeper level, the move makes it clear that the future of Internet access is one that simply doesn't involve wires. Consumers have been abandoning yesteryear's trappings of technology -- desktop computers, wired phones, and so on -- in droves, and they've been increasingly turning to mobile phones and tablets as replacements. It only makes sense for devices like these that the primary conduit to the web become not a rickety broadband connection but rather one that truly utilizes a mobile-first philosophy.

The partnership between Sprint -- a phone and data services company -- and DISH -- a satellite television company -- may at first seem a bit strange (and in the past the two companies have openly sparred), but the common thread binding them is that both have long had to deal with the same competitors. Cable providers have been able to woo customers by offering a "triple play" of Internet access, television, and phone service. While Sprint's fixed wireless broadband solution doesn't give its customers the TV component that wire-based providers have access to, the partnership with DISH solves that problem handily. While the company is busy installing your Sprint wireless broadband box, I'm sure they'd be all too happy to convert you over to DISH satellite TV at the same time.

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