4G LTE Agreement Between Cricket And Clearwire Announced
March 15, 2012

4G LTE Agreement Between Cricket And Clearwire Announced

LightSquared suffered another blow to its hoped-for wholesale 4G mobile business plans this week as budget carrier Cricket announced it will use Clearwire to fill out a planned LTE service.

Cricket becomes the second would-be customer to turn to Clearwire since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acted to block LightSquared´s hybrid network plan last month over interference concerns with GPS which shot down the proposal.

Cricket, the operating company for Leap Wireless, plans to deploy its own LTE network older WiMAX technology over the next two or three years, starting with LTE coverage for about 25 million US residents by the end of this year, it said in a press release.

Under the five-year agreement announced on Wednesday, however, it will use Clearwire´s LTE network for capacity offload from its own network, writes Scott Moritz for Bloomberg.

Cricket did not say whether it had cancelled its deal with LightSquared but did mention it would explore additional 4G partners, said company spokesman Amy Wakeham in an e-mailed statement.

“The Clearwire agreement provides us with another option for supplementing our own 4G LTE roll-out and for roaming in non-Cricket markets,” she said.

In moving to Clearwire, Cricket joins FreedomPop, a startup that plans to offer free mobile broadband to some subscribers, which likewise had signed up as a LightSquared wholesale partner but announced a deal with Clearwire last month.

Worse news could come as early as today when Sprint Nextel, LightSquared´s main wholesale partner, has given the company a deadline of mid-March to win FCC approval for its network.

Under the companies´ 15-year deal, LightSquared would pay Sprint $9 billion in cash and Sprint would host the startup´s spectrum on its Network Vision infrastructure.