updated 08:00 am EDT, Wed May 7, 2008
Sprint and Clearwire today announced the unification of their two WiMAX Internet services into a single company that they hope will drive the 4G wireless standard. Simply titled Clearwire, the business will share the services of both the old Clearwire and Sprint's Xohm network in a single national WiMAX provider and is said to help promote the concept of an open wireless standard that allows any device and software to run; the combined build-out of the two should cover between 120 and 140 million Americans by the end of 2010, the involved companies say.
The official word also confirms late rumors and reveals that the new partnership will receive a total of $3.2 billion in extra investments from several key firms to foster its growth. Cable providers Bright House Networks, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable have agreed to invest into the project and will in return have rights to resell and tie in Sprint's cellphone service with their existing businesses.
Google and the chief creator of WiMAX, Intel, have also agreed to invest in the revamped Clearwire to help spread its adoption. The former hopes to encourage widespread broadband and will co-develop apps meant to take advantage of the 4G access, which achieves multi-megabit speeds that can support video. Intel says it will in turn promote Clearwire for notebooks based on its upcoming Centrino 2 platform that use the optional Echo Peak adapter, which builds both Wi-Fi and WiMAX into a single system.
Google will also have some of its services made standard on Sprint's phones and other mobile devices, including Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. Both the search engine pioneer and Intel will also have the options of licensing Sprint's 3G or Clearwire's 4G data access at wholesale rates, though neither has announced plans to launch their own services.
Sprint will own a 51 percent majority stake in the new company, which should be approved by regulators by late 2008.