Startup PrepaYd Wireless has launched prepaid data services over Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) WiMAX network to complement the CDMA-based voice and data service that it launched in December 2011 via an MVNO relationship with Sprint (NYSE:S).
"Our 4G WiMAX coverage is in addition to our basic Web and 3G EVDO coverage that's available with some of our other plans, so our subscribers will still have great coverage when outside of 4G coverage," said Josh Berman, vice president of PrepaYd.
The Newport Beach, Calif.-based MVNO's no-contract Y plans for unlimited nationwide talk and text start at $35 a month, including taxes and surcharges. Those plans include a variety of tiered services that top out at $50 per month but do not include WiMAX. The only Wi MAX-inclusive package is the company's Y $60 plan, which promises unlimited nationwide talk, text, picture messaging and Web service, among other things.
"We are very excited to be among the first prepaid wireless carriers in the industry to offer 4G WiMAX capability to our customers," said Dylan Fernandes, PrepaYd's vice president of wireless development.
Despite growing momentum behind LTE, the domestic WiMAX data market continues to show striking resilience. Sprint last month confirmed that although it is shifting its focus to LTE, its no-contract sub-brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will gain WiMAX service sometime this quarter via Sprint's arrangement with Clearwire. Last December, Sprint agreed to pay Clearwire a total of $926 million for unlimited access to its WiMAX network in 2012 and 2013, and Sprint will have access to the WiMAX network through at least 2015.
Last month, San Clemente, Calif.-based Elevate extended its CDMA MVNO partnership with Sprint to also include WiMAX service on the Clearwire network. Meanwhile, Clearwire has directly signed up MVNOs such as H2O Wireless, NetZeto Wireless and FreedomPop--which has yet to launch--to its WiMAX network.
However, late last month Best Buy said it was shuttering its Best Buy Connect branded mobile broadband service less than two years after the business got started. The service resold mobile broadband with access to Clearwire's WiMAX network and Sprint Nextel's EV-DO network.
PrepaYd says it is targeting an estimated 110 million-consumer demographic with its prepaid wireless services. The company said it intends to eventually make all of its available phones and wireless plans compatible with mobile banking services.
PrepaYd Wireless is a sibling company to prepaid credit card provider Bank Freedom and a subsidiary of PrepaYd, a provider of financial services in the prepaid debit card industry, which targets the 60 million under-banked U.S. citizens as well as small and mid-size businesses. Last month, Bank Freedom signed a multi-year agreement with FIS, the world's largest provider of banking and payments technology to use the FIS Mobile offering in support of Bank Freedom's mobile application for the under-banked market.
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