updated 7/1/2005 5:52:23 PM ET 2005-07-01T21:52:23

Sprint, the third largest U.S. mobile phone network operator announced plans to test so-called WiMAX broadband wireless technology as part of a partnership agreement with Motorola, the US telecommunications equipment and handset maker.

WiMAX technology is based on the emerging 802.16e standard backed by Intel, the U.S. chip maker and a large group of equipment makers and carriers including both Motorola and Sprint. The US carrier joined the WiMAX forum in January and signed a related agreement with Intel earlier this year.

It is one of a group of rival '4G' wireless technologies that are expected to enable telecommunications companies and others to deliver very high speed wireless broadband connectivity to fixed and mobile users over large geographic areas.

Under the agreement announced on Thursday Sprint and Motorola said they will conduct joint wireless broadband technology testing and equipment trials in 2005 and 2006.

"Sprint is fostering a number of strategic partnerships and investigating multiple technologies in support of future wireless interactive multimedia services," said Oliver Valente, Sprint's chief technology officer. "WiMAX is one of the technologies Sprint is investigating for services which would be considered for deployment in the 2.5 GHz band of spectrum."

The US carrier said it hopes the trials will. "help substantiate next-generation wireless network infrastructure requirements and consumer products for future wireless interactive multimedia services." If they are successful, the partners said they will lead to, "customer demonstrations and further user studies for market applicability."

Like their counterparts in Europe and Asia, most U.S. mobile carriers are investigating alternative 4G broadband wireless technologies which are expected to be deployed over the next five years and will deliver desktop-style broadband services to customers.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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