In a thoroughly unsurprising move, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S, news, filings) has now formally ended its wholesale partnership with LightSquared. While LightSquared remains publicly committed to finding a way to use its spectrum, the FCC’s decision to revoke the conditional approval they had granted a year earlier has left them without many options. Sprint had given the company extra time, but is now formally giving up on the project and returning some $65M in prepayments they had received but not yet used.
Meanwhile, clwr‘s rival LTE buildout got another shot in the arm this week. Leap Wireless’s prepaid Cricket brand has signed on as a wholesale partner. Cricket is planning its own LTE buildout across 2/3 of its territory, and intends to use Clearwire’s network capacity to supplement it. Cricket had previously been planning on working with LightSquared, but obviously has now had to make other plans. Both Clearwire and Cricket have a lot of buildout work to do yet before this turns into reality.
There are quite a few more LightSquared partners out there yet that may find there way into Clearwire’s barn over the next few quarters. And then there’s T-MobileUSA, which is now working on its own plans but without enough spectrum to go it alone.
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