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October 07, 2011

Sprint's Move to 4G Will Leave Clearwire behind in 2012

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Wireless carrier Sprint Nextel (News - Alert) Corp., may have just gained the much-coveted iPhone 4S, but its forthcoming move to a 4G network will soon leave one wireless service provider out in the cold.

According to an announcement today, Sprint will no longer sell phones and other devices compatible with Clearwire’s (News - Alert) network by the end of 2012.

In the meantime, Sprint will be switching its existing customers over to its own 4G data network, which will be established come next summer, Steve Elfman, Sprint’s president of network operations told investors and analysts today at a New York meeting. Even more, the new, higher-speed network will cover as many customers as Clearwire’s network does currently, and that number is expected to grow exponentially in 2013, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Today’s Sprint phones, which are labeled “Sprint 4G,” currently use Clearwire’s network. However, since Sprint is using LTE (News - Alert) for its 4G network, and Clearwire uses WiMax, these devices will need to be replaced to accommodate the new LTE network.  

With Sprint currently standing as Clearwire’s largest customer and majority owner, this bullish move certainly impacted Clearwire’s shares, which fell 30 cents, or 15 percent, to $1.75 in today’s morning trading. Meanwhile, Sprint’s stock climbed 25 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $3.26.

Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that Sprint would sell the iPhone (News - Alert) 4S when it launches on Oct. 14, but it was unclear at that time if the carrier would also get the older model. Sprint began taking orders for the existing iPhone 4 on Thursday from customers willing to plunk down $100. It will take orders for the $200 iPhone 4S, which has a faster processor and more memory, starting today (Friday), as reported by TMCnet.

“The iPhone will be a great addition to the already stellar lineup of devices Sprint offers and will add to how our company will continue to provide the best products from our portfolio,” Matt Carter, president of Sprint Wholesale Solutions and New Ventures, exclusively told TMCnet.

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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