To keep up with demand for mobile data over the next few years, Sprint has already laid out elaborate plans for a flexible new infrastructure and a partnership with satellite-cellular startup LightSquared, all of which is separate from its Clearwire relationship. But on Wednesday, Sprint finally described a continuing role for Clearwire beyond the companies' WiMax wholesale deal, which expires at the end of next year.
The promise of a continuing revenue stream from Sprint should help Clearwire raise the funds necessary to build its LTE network, for which the company has said it needs to raise about $600 million. But analysts said it's doubtful Clearwire will be able to maintain its own branded mobile service, called Clear. The company has been cutting back marketing efforts for several years under financial constraints.
Clearwire has already spent too much money selling a mobile data service that essentially competes against its wholesale partners, said analyst Chetan Sharma, from Chetan Sharma Consulting.
"Unless some boatload of money magically appears, it's unlikely that's a strategy they can pursue," Sharma said.
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