Sprint cancels WiMax version of BlackBerry PlayBook

The operator said it reached a mutual decision with RIM not to offer a WiMax version of the PlayBook tablet

Sprint has decided not to offer a WiMax version of the BlackBerry PlayBook, the company said Friday.

"We apologize for any inconvenience but the BlackBerry 4G PlayBook Tablet that was announced in January for summer availability will no longer be coming to the Sprint network," Sprint said in a statement.

The operator currently offers a Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet. A customer could connect that device to a Wi-Fi hotspot that uses WiMax on the back end, such as the Mifi, and connect to Sprint's WiMax network that way.

Sprint said it was a mutual decision between the operator and Sprint not to offer the WiMax PlayBook.

RIM said it will focus on LTE, the 4G technology more widely adopted, instead of WiMax. "RIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE," it said in a statement.

"Testing of BlackBerry 4G PlayBook models is already underway and we plan to enter labs for network certifications in the U.S. and other international markets this fall," it said.

RIM said in February that it would make PlayBooks that run on LTE and HSPA+, technology used by both T-Mobile and AT&T. RIM said it planned to launch the tablets in the second half of this year. It did not mention its HSPA+ plans on Friday.

The PlayBook has some unique features but has struggled to overcome some weaknesses, namely that it doesn't include key native apps including e-mail. Users must connect their BlackBerry phone to the tablet to use e-mail. It faces stiff competition from the likes of the iPad and Android tablets, both of which had head starts on the PlayBook.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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