Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Clearwire to Stop Selling Sprint 3G

Clearwire has stopped offering postpaid plans to new customers and will no longer sell dual-mode WiMAX/3G devices that use Sprint's CDMA network. Sprint, for its part, says it will not sell Clearwire WiMAX phones after 2012. Clearwire dumps Sprint 3G

The moves clearly point to a shift by both carriers to Long Term Evolution. Sprint's shift away from WiMAX, and Clearwire's shift away from 3G both mean each carrier is free to emphasize Long Term Evolution services expected to be offered on both networks as the "preferred" 4G network, going forward. 

Sprint Nextel Corp. says it will stop selling phones and other devices compatible with Clearwire Corp.'s network at the end of 2012, as it switches customers to its own Long Term Evolution network. 

It is possible to paint the picture as a sign of deteriorating relations between Sprint and Clearwire, but a shift to 4G and LTE is the real meaning of the changes. Sprint is carving out LTE capacity from its own 3G spectrum, while Clearwire needs to build an entirely new LTE network using spectrum it might otherwise devote to WiMAX. 

Also, as Clearwire shifts away from a dual role as both a wholesaler of capacity and a retail brand, it has to be cognizant of what its wholesale customers want, and Sprint, Clearwire's top customer, clearly is signaling it wants LTE plus CDMA to be the preferred "dual mode" approach it prefers. 

The irony is that Sprint owns a majority of Clearwire. Sprint to halt WiMAX sales

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