Cricket signs five-year Clearwire LTE deal

Clearwire is currently in the process of migrating from WiMAX to LTE, but there was a slight bump in the road when Google announced at the end of February it was selling its existing stock in the company, well below the market value. The 6.5% stake was sold for $47 million at $1.60 a share, below the $2.27 asking price at the time. Clearwire has today announced a new partnership with Cricket, which will see the budget wireless provider making use of Clearwire's LTE network when it's eventually built.

Cricket began rolling out LTE in December 2011, starting off in Tucson, Arizona. So far the company only supports USB modems, but with the latest move from Clearwire, could see some LTE smartphones on its network. Cricket are set to utilize Clearwire's LTE network as part of a five-year deal. They're the second company to make use of Clearwire's LTE network so far.

Of course, Clearwire's LTE network isn't even live yet: the hope is to have 5,000 cell sites live by June 2013, then build towards 8,000 sites. Cricket are hoping to expand LTE coverage to around 60% of its exisiting network coverage, which should be helped significantly by Clearwire's LTE network when it does eventually go live.

Eric Prusch, President and CEO of Clearwire said:

This long-term partnership with Cricket is a key step forward in the development of Clearwire's wholesale LTE business model. We are very pleased to provide Cricket with additional mobile broadband resources to supplement their own LTE build and we plan to continue to actively seek new opportunities to serve the needs of other 4G providers.

Neither company has outlined the financial terms of the deal, however.