Best Buy To Become Clearwire WiMAX MVNO

Retail giant Best Buy is furthering its mobile ambitions by becoming an MVNO on Clearwire Corp.s WiMAX network. It plans to offer 4G service under its own brand, the Best Buy Connect service, which launched just about a month ago with rebranded 3G data service running on the Sprint-Nextel network. The 4G option will roll out beginning in 2011.

The addition will allow Best Buy to offer 3G and 4G mobile connectivity in a variety of tiered service plans and with a variety of devices. For now, Best Buy sells 3G laptops and modems based on the Gobi technology from QUALCOMM, which supports both EVDO and HSPA. 3G plans offer a range of data caps, from 250MB to 5GB per month.

Our strategic wholesale agreement with Clearwire will enable Best Buy Connect to leverage the Clearwire 4G networks speed and bandwidth to deliver compelling new mobile broadband experiences for our customers,” said Jed Stillman, vice president of Best Buy Connect, in a statment. This agreement paves the way to providing one-stop shopping and support for mobile broadband as more people become more connected across all kinds of devices. We believe consumers will appreciate the added advantage of relying on Best Buy Connect for both 3G and 4G mobile broadband services beginning next year.”

The deal furthers the WiMAX operators plan to increase traffic and economies of scale through rebranding. Clearwire has hoped to take a market niche approach to offering WiMAX, so that many different brands can serve a variety of customer segments without trampling on each other. Meanwhile, the awareness of WiMAX grows with each new partner. While Sprint, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable are all MVNOs for Clearwire already, Best Buy will be Clearwires first major wholesaler for Clearwire outside of its strategic investors, suggesting the so-called network of networks” idea is gaining traction outside of those with a clear corporate interest in the approach working.

This new agreement is particularly strategic for our network of networks business model,” said Teresa Elder, president of strategic partnerships and wholesale at Clearwire. Not only is this one of the first major wholesale agreements beyond our group of strategic investors, but it also demonstrates the interest in our network from companies outside of traditional service providers. We look forward to supporting Best Buy in the months and years ahead.”

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