Sprint Nextel confirmed that it will launch a Sprint-branded prepaid service Jan. 25 that will offer unlimited talk, text and data on feature phones and smartphones. The carrier also said it will not throttle or otherwise limit the data usage on its new prepaid plans.
Crest Financial, a minority investor in Clearwire, said it will ask the FCC to halt both Sprint Nextel's proposed $2.2 billion acquisition of Clearwire as well as Softbank's $20.1 billion deal to acquire 70 percent of Sprint.
Sprint Nextel will launch its own branded prepaid service later this month, according to the blog Android Police. The move would add another layer to Sprint's multi-pronged prepaid strategy.
Dish Network CEO Joseph Clayton said the company is still looking for a wireless carrier to partner with to build out its planned LTE Advanced network, but he seemed to rule out Sprint Nextel as a partner.
Sprint Nextel has canceled--at least for now--its Upgrade Now program, which allowed customers to pay extra money to get upgrade pricing for devices earlier than they otherwise would have.
Clearwire has started testing usage-based prepaid mobile data plans in 10 of its mobile WiMAX markets, a break from its previous offering of $35 per month for unlimited home Internet and $50 per month for unlimited mobile Internet access.
Starting in January, Sprint Nextel's Boost Mobile prepaid brand will begin throttling customers' data speeds if they use more than 2.5 GB per month. The change mirrors one that Sprint put in place this year for its Virgin Mobile prepaid unit.
The FCC said Dish Network must cover at least 40 percent of the population in areas covered by its spectrum with a wireless network in the next four years, or face penalties. Further, the FCC said Dish must cover at least 70 percent of that population within seven years. Dish has said it plans to build an LTE Advanced network with its spectrum.
If the FCC approves this transaction, Sprint will be the largest spectrum holder in the United States with an average of just over 200 MHz of spectrum across the country. According to the National Broadband Plan, there is 547 MHz of spectrum useable for wireless broadband. If this transaction is approved, Sprint will own more than a third of the available spectrum allocated by the U.S. government, but with with less than one sixth of U.S. customers.
Sprint Nextel's bid to takeover Clearwire prompts questions regarding how it might integrate both companies' networks as well as speculation that the company is using Clearwire in a game of spectrum chess against other potential acquirers such as Dish Network.