Sprint is actually also a wholesale customer of Clearwire’s WiMAX service. However, this deal was made possible by the arrangement that Sprint will pay Clearwire $1 billion over the next two years, for network capacity for its customers. Clearwire was already running a wholesale business through Best Buy, cable operators and other partners in addition to Sprint. This new arrangement should still be beneficial for Clearwire. Indeed, Sprint has a much stronger customer base and is able to attract more new customers because it is already an established and trusted cellphone service provider. Clearwire ultimately gets paid for all the new subscribers to smaller carriers buying their 3G and WiMAX networks from Sprint.
As a starter, Sprint only offers the resellers two devices working with 4G WiMAX technology. The HTC Detail (with a slide-out keyboard, a 3.6-inch touchscreen and powered by the Android 2.2 Platform) is essentially the same as the Evo Shift 4G, a very respectable 4G smartphone. Sprint also sells the Sierra Wireless 250 U 3G/4G data card for Windows 7, Vista and XP, and mac OS X. Several other devices will be presented soon, says Sprint Spokesman John Votava.
New Sprint smartphone users will have to pay an additional $10 monthly smartphone fee to support the 3G/4G access a data usage. To Sprint’s wholesale customers, the so-called MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), this arrangement is an open door to multiple service and pricing plans aimed at cost-conscious customers or specific demographic groups. Acute targeting might actually be the best (and only) solution for these second-hand sellers as many of these carriers have shut down over the last decade and Sprint even recently acquired one of its major MVNOs, Virgin Mobile.
This 4G WiMAX wholesale agreement comes shortly after Sprint announced a 15-years partnership with LightSquared to provide 4G LTE technology, an alternative to WiMAX. However, Sprint’s deal with LightSquared does not allow it yet to resell 4G LTE service to wholesalers which makes the Clearwire deal special and shows the reciprocal importance of joint development for both companies.