Sprint, the EVO and the Uncertainty of WiMax

After my massive disappointment with the Palm Pre I'm contemplating my next phone. At CTIA I saw, under glass, the HTC Evo -- Sprint's first "4G" WiMax phone. So I'm thinking maybe I'll wait for that this summer; Radio Shack is taking pre-orders later this month.

What most people don't realize is that 4G networks will require them to buy new devices. But then GigaOm reports that Sprint/Clearwire may abandon ("dump") WiMax for LTE:

Clearwire said today it’s changed the terms of an agreement it had with Intel, one of its largest investors, that could lead the way for Clearwire to dump WiMAX and switch to LTE. On its first-quarter financial results call today, an executive with Clearwire said the new terms allow either party to exit the agreement — which had until now forced Clearwire to use WiMAX through Nov. 28, 2011 — with just 30 days notice.

Clearwire did not announce a technology switch, but in response to questions from analysts, CFO Erik E. Prusch said that the overall ecosystem for 4G wireless was converging and as such, the market won’t have the technology wars in the future that it has seen in the past. Clearwire will “keep evolving as we move forward,” he added.

Roughly nine months ago I spoke to someone at Clear who told me that the company could quite easily switch to LTE with its existing infrastructure if that's the way the industry and its partners decided to go. But would such a decision render the Evo a useless device then? Clearly the Evo would still be able to work on the 3G network but I'm guessing it wouldn't be compatible with LTE, requiring yet another hardware purchase.

Most people who might be interested in buying the Evo -- the "first 4G phone" -- don't have this information, which is still speculative. But it gives me pause. 

The phone I really want is the forthcoming iPhone on Verizon (or Sprint).