The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Clearwire and Sprint are close to announcing a roaming deal for their respective WiMAX networks. The two wireless providers are hoping to leverage each other to build a national WiMAX footprint more quickly. Sprint alluded to the need for more capital investment for their already committed $3 billion dollar WiMAX buildout. A roaming alliance with Clearwire might make their ‘sprint’ to a national footprint a little easier and less costly. Clearwire would gain from a Sprint alliance for much the same reason. The talks reportedly involve more than just a traditional roaming agreement, and include swapping of actual spectrum assets.
A Sprint/Clearwire WiMAX alliance presents an interesting (and maybe compelling) proposition. It could bring a national WiMAX footprint to reality, and thus a viable competitor to other broadband networks, much more quickly. On the surface, WiMAX, with its portability applications, appears to be a threat to other mobile broadband wireless providers. But as Clearwire has demonstrated, WiMAX also poses a threat to landline broadband service providers. It’s combination of DSL like speeds and portability provide a compelling value proposition.
Story Update – Things happen fast these days. Within hours of this original post, the Wall Street Journal reports confirmation of this agreement. One of the more interesting developments is Clearwire will also have the ability to roam on Sprint’s CDMA EV-DO network, thus expanding their broadband reach.