Sprint has announced today that it is set to acquire 100% ownership of Clearwire in a deal worth $2.97 per share — or roughly $2.2 billion. The carrier says it plans to utilize Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum, which will be migrated to 4G LTE standards, to achieve “operational efficiencies and improved service for customers.”
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While the iPod touch is a terrific little device, it would be so much better if Apple gave it a data connection. It’s so frustrating when you quickly want to check on a sports score or load up a map and you’re in an area where there’s no Wi-Fi connection. Thanks to FreedomPop, however, you can now pick up a new case for $99 that comes with built-in WiMAX.
Japan’s third-largest carrier is reportedly in talks to buy control of Sprint, according to two people familiar with the matter. SoftBank wants to snap up two-thirds of the company with a stake worth “more than” 1.5 trillion yen ($19 billion), and it’s also eyeing Sprint’s partner, Clearwire, too.
Earlier this year, we reported on the plans by NetZero and FreedomPop to offer free 4G mobile broadband in the U.S. over ClearWire’s WiMax network. Both companies planned to operate on a freemium basis where users get a limited amount of data each month and can buy more if they choose.
This week, a company in the U.K. called Samba joined the free broadband bandwagon with a model that’s ad-based and freemium in nature, making it somewhat similar to NetZero’s original business model from the good old days of dial-up service.
Earlier this week, NetZero launched a new freemium mobile broadband service using Clearwire’s WiMax 4G network. Although NetZero is the first U.S. company to launch a “free” 4G service, it isn’t going to be the last. Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom has begun work on a similar service called FreedomPop that will launch this summer.
FreedomPop plans to offer more monthly data for free than NetZero’s paltry 200MB. It will also target iPhone owners as a major part of its user base.
NetZero made a name for itself in the late nineties by offering free ad-supported dialup Internet access before turning to a low-cost model (still available for dialup and and basic DSL). NetZero is returning to its free/freemium roots with today’s announcement of a contract-free 4G service. The service offers several tiers of data use with the first one being free beyond purchasing a 4G device.
While intriguing, the free service tier definitely illustrates the “you get what you pay for” addage. Some of the other tiers are attractive, but there are some downsides and, quite frankly, a Verizon 4G iPad may be a much smarter investment in the long run.
If Sprint’s new “network enhancements” were designed to quiet complaints by iPhone 4S users, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier may need to return to the drawing board. Following tweaks for peppier 3G downloads, many Sprint customers still complain of turtle-like connections while lusting after Verizon’s faster network.