Best Buy Connect disconnects from doing business

Best Buy said it is 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 (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network and Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S)  EV-DO network; Best Buy also inked an MVNO deal with LightSquared.

The news was first reported by Engadget and then later confirmed by AllThingsD. "We have decided to exit this business after re-evaluating the priorities of the newly formed Connectivity Business Group, determining that we can achieve greater growth and customer satisfaction by delivering mobile broadband support in ways other than an exclusive Best Buy branded service," a Best Buy spokesperson told AllThingsD. "Nevertheless, Best Buy Connect provided us lasting insight into delivering mobile broadband solutions, and we intend to apply this experience to our distinctive connectivity value proposition going forward."

Best Buy sold USB modems and wirelessly-enabled laptops via the Best Buy Connect Service. According to an internal memo seen by Engadget, the service, which started in July 2010, currently has 11,000 customers. The memo said that service will end June 1, that early termination fees will be waived and that WiMAX customers will be given the option to transition to Clearwire's Clear-branded service. Customers in good standing will receive a Best Buy gift card, according to the memo.

Best Buy first began reselling Sprint's EV-DO service in July 2010, and Best Buy added Clearwire's WiMAX service in March 2011.  Around that time Best Buy also inked an MVNO deal with LightSquared, but that never came to fruition because of LightSquared's troubles getting its wholesale LTE network launched amid concerns about interference with GPS receivers.

The announcement comes amid major changes for the electronics retailer. Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigned earlier this month amid a probe into his personal conduct, reportedly with a  female employee. And last month Best Buy announced a major restructuring where it will close 50 of its big box stores, cut 400 corporate jobs and save $800 million. At the same time, Best Buy said it would open another 100 Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. during its fiscal 2013. The retailer said it continues to expect to have a total of 600 to 800 such stores by fiscal 2016, up from 305 currently.

For more:
- see this Engadget post
- see this AllThingsD article

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