Sprint 4G service, WiMAX, is offered by means of a partnership with Clearwire, of which Sprint owns a majority stake. Now Clearwire is gearing-up for a big change to its services, announcing today that it will start providing LTE Advanced-ready communications with network links that have demonstrated the capacity for 120Mbps speeds. How will this new direction affect current Sprint customers?
Sprint has already aligned itself with LightSquared for LTE data, announcing plans to work together to build up an LTE network over the next few years. We had assumed that it would maintain separate WiMAX service to offer existing users, and continue to do so as its LTE capacity grew out to do national levels.
Clearwire, though, is talking about using its existing 2.5GHz spectrum holdings for LTE the very same area of the spectrum it uses now for WiMAX. Our initial concern would be that as it starts LTE service, that would mean less room available for WiMAX. The company must understand that this concern is out there, as it wrapped-up its LTE announcement by “restating its commitment” to WiMAX and all existing WiMAX users. So, for now, we wouldn’t panic, but Sprint users might want to think carefully about which 4G technology their future phone choices use over the next few years.