updated 11:40 pm EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
Sprint and Clearwire close to pact even with LTE
Sprint and Clearwire are close to signing a deal that keep their network sharing intact even after Sprint's LTE switch, purported sources divulged late Thursday. The terms passed on to Bloomberg would have it extend the deal for another three to five years. If completed, the deal will probably see Sprint pay less to Clearwire for when its 4G data goes over the Clearwire network.
A pact could still leave Clearwire in an uncertain position. Sprint reportedly wouldn't fund the younger, financially unstable company. An extended deal would still help Clearwire, which could have faced a bleak future after the end of 2012, when the current agreement will wrap up and Sprint might drop the Clearwire-friendly WiMAX in favor of LTE. Clearwire itself has promised a move to LTE, but it might have trouble affording the switch without Sprint offsetting some of the cost.
Sprint's chief executive Dan Hesse has already said that talks were underway to extend the deal, but for how long and under what conditions hadn't slipped out until Thursday.
Both have wanted to move to LTE to keep up with AT&T and Verizon, both of which have launched their own networks and are multiple times faster in practice than Sprint's WiMAX. Using the faster, more widely adopted 4G will eventually let Clearwire start offering phone service when Voice over LTE is finalized and could see it get the iPhone, Android phones, and other devices once they support the spec. Many believe Sprint sees the iPhone as a primary reason to switch to LTE.