Sprint Nextel is teaming up with top U.S. cable companies to
introduce advanced wireless services and get a head start on AT&T
Sprint and Clearwire introduced a $14.5 billion venture with
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and Bright House Networks
to build a high-speed wireless Internet network based on the
emerging WiMax technology.
WiMax promises to blanket entire cities with Web access for
laptops, cell phones and other wireless devices at fast speeds. It
aims to have a service area covering as many as 140 million people
in the United States by the end of 2010.
Sprint will own about 51 percent of the new company, while
shareholders of Clearwire will own about 27 percent.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and cable operator Bright
House will get a combined 22 percent, and are expected to kick in
$3.2 billion to help finance the venture.
"The new Clearwire service area will cover as much as 120 million
to 140 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2010 with the
opportunity ultimately to reach more than 200 million people beyond
2010," said Clearwire CEO Benjamin Wolff.
AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications, the top two U.S. phone
companies, have been offering consumers packages of television,
Internet, phone and wireless services to compete against cable, as
well as Sprint, which is the third-largest U.S. mobile service
The WiMax venture would give cable a leg up in terms of
next-generation wireless services, with speeds up to five times
faster than traditional networks. Wi-Fi, by contrast, is a short
range service covering small areas like coffee shops.
But WiMax is a largely unproven technology, which was why Sprint
investors were critical of its earlier plan to spend $5 billion by
2010 on WiMax. An earlier WiMax partnership between Sprint and
Clearwire had also fallen apart because it was too complicated.