Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have signed an agreement to share their national WiMAX networks. The firms will roll out their own infrastructure, covering the regions where they hold WiMAX spectrum, but customers of either operator will be able to roam onto the other’s network and services will be offered under a joint brand name. As part of the deal, the two telcos will also exchange selected 2.5GHz spectrum to optimise their respective coverage. The 20-year agreement is still subject to approval by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.
Sprint and Clearwire are by far the largest WiMAX spectrum owners in the US, with 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz frequencies covering most of the country. Sprint intends to launch its first mobile WIMAX services in two markets at the end of this year and will eventually have networks covering 185 million people, including 75% of the inhabitants of the top 50 US markets. Clearwire, meanwhile, is currently offering wireless internet services using proprietary pre-WiMAX technology but is looking to migrate to true mobile WIMAX. It will roll out networks which cover 115 million people. The pair say they will have infrastructure covering 100 million people by the end of next year. More information on WiMAX deployments worldwide can be found in TeleGeography’s WiMAX Market Tracking Service.