Some industry watchers thought Clearwire’s prospects were rather bleak after AT&T announced plans to gobble up T-Mobile for $39 billion. And that may still be the case. But the Kirkland mobile broadband company — under the temporary leadership of wireless pioneer John Stanton — is showing some signs of life. Today, the company announced that it has signed a wholesale agreement with Locus Telecommunications, a prepaid wireless company which currently offers calling card products in 70,000 U.S. locations.
As part of the deal, Locus customers will be able to purchase prepaid 4G service for Clearwire — meaning that you could jump onto the company’s network without getting locked into a long-term service agreement. The offering will be available later this year. Clearwire has experimented with this before through its own Rover service, which is targeted at younger consumers and costs anywhere from $5 per day to $50 per month with no long-term commitments.
Separately, we were intrigued by a report at Rethink Wireless which indicated that Intel and Clearwire are working on a new LTE (long-term evolution) network in Mexico. Reporter Caroline Gabriel notes that the “world has come full circle,” pointing out that Clearwire and Intel have traditionally been big supporters of the competing WiMax standard.
The network is part of a revised plan by the companies to work with Mecxico’s MSV Communications, with each of the three partners agreeing to pump $400 million into the venture, Gabriel reports.
UPDATE: A Clearwire spokesman says that they are an investor in MVS, and have been for some time. However, he noted that “we do not plan to invest any additional money into the company or this venture.”
This too may be Stanton’s workings, since he’s shown an interest throughout his career in establishing wireless networks internationally. (He’s also a backer of Trilogy International, which operates wireless networks in New Zealand and Haiti).
Clearwire hasn’t been shy about its LTE intentions, testing the network here in the U.S. But the Mexico deal signals that the company, and its backer Intel, are getting more serious about LTE.
We have an email into Clearwire about the report, and we’ll update as we learn more.
Meanwhile, Credit Suisse reports today that Sprint Nextel — a majority shareholder of Clearwire — will soon enter into a new licensing agreement with the company.
Shares of Clearwire are up four cents in early morning trading at $5.98.