US cellular operator Sprint Nextel and wireless broadband provider Clearwire have unveiled a new USD12 billion partnership which will combine their planned nationwide mobile WiMAX networks. The two firms originally signed an agreement to share WiMAX infrastructure last year but this was abandoned after just a few months when the real financial costs of the venture became apparent. The new deal brings additional partners into the frame in the shape of cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, chip manufacturer Intel and search engine giant Google. These five will invest USD3.2 billion between them, reducing the financial impact on Sprint and Clearwire. The deal also involves a series of commercial agreements with the strategic investors, including 3G and 4G wholesale agreements. The joint venture will operate under the Clearwire name. The new Clearwire will be 51%-owned by Sprint assuming a per-share price of USD20. Sprint and Clearwire own the bulk of WiMAX-capable 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz spectrum in the US.
Clearwire chairman Craig McCaw, said, ‘We believe that the new Clearwire will operate one of the fastest and most capable broadband wireless networks ever conceived, giving us the opportunity to return the US to a leadership position in the global wireless industry.’ Meanwhile, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts commented: ‘This is a great coalition of innovative companies that have joined together to create the next generation of mobile wireless products. It is exciting to be on the ground floor of this new venture that we believe will create unprecedented high speed wireless products and make them available across the nation.’