Best Buy to launch broadband MVNO using Sprint's EV-DO network

Best Buy will launch its own mobile broadband service next month called Best Buy Connect, using Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) EV-DO network.

Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Greenwood told FierceWireless that Sprint will provide 3G data services for the offering, but not 4G mobile WiMAX service. A Best Buy spokeswoman, Paula Baldwin, confirmed the service will launch July 11 and will be available on Gobi-enabled laptops and netbooks sold at Best Buy's U.S. stores. The company said it will release more details about the pricing options on July 11.

The pricing plans are said to range from $30 per month for 250 MB of data on a prepaid plan up to $60 per month for 5 GB of data for a postpaid plan, according to a Best Buy circular advertisement outlined by Dow Jones Newswires. The blog Engadget first reported the news earlier this week.

Greenwood said Sprint's partnership with Best Buy is a continuation of the carrier's strategy to provide solutions for embedded wireless in a variety of devices. "Partners like Best Buy have access to additional distribution channels and can reach customer segments that Sprint may not be reaching," she said.

Current Analysis analyst William Ho said the new partnership shows Sprint is "leveraging their wholesale network to its fullest to look at any way to grab market share--whether that's in direct customers or indirect."

"Sprint has voice MVNOs that it is fueling, and to expand into mobile broadband MVNO offerings only helps the company bring return on capital investment it has spent on shoring up its CDMA network," Ho told FierceWireless. "Sprint already has Virgin Mobile pushing an aggressive prepaid mobile broadband story, and having a very visible brand sharing into its overall data push will help put mobile broadband into the consumer mindset."

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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