Clearwire ditches postpaid service, offers prepaid unlimited at $50

Mobile WiMAX carrier Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) announced it will streamline its Clear-branded service to offer unlimited prepaid Internet service at $50 per month. The move essentially removes its previous postpaid service plan options along with device leasing, activation fees, early termination fees and restocking fees.

Clearwire previously offered postpaid service at $45 per month with a service contract.

Interestingly, Clearwire will also discontinue sales of dual-mode WiMAX/CDMA devices. Clearwire previously offered devices that could roam onto Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) 3G CDMA EV-DO network, but will now only offer access to its own WiMAX network.

Clearwire said the changes will only apply to new customers and that existing customers will be able to continue to use their existing devices and service plans. The changes were first reported by DSLReports.

The move comes as little surprise. Clearwire earlier this year said it planned to scale back its direct-to-consumer retail efforts in favor of focusing on its wholesale business. Clearwire resells WiMAX services to Sprint, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and others. Indeed, Clearwire earlier this year discontinued its Rover prepaid brand, which offered WiMAX service for $50 per month without a contract.

"It's part of a broader realignment of our offers to focus more on our core 4G network services," explained Clearwire spokesman Mike DiGioia, who declined to provide details.

Clearwire plans to move to LTE-Advanced network technology, but that action is contingent on the carrier obtaining another $600 million in financing. Further, the carrier has said it needs between $150 million and $300 million to maintain its existing WiMAX network.

Sprint recently announced its own 4G plans that involve building its own LTE network on its 1900 MHz spectrum--plans that did not include any mention of Clearwire. However, Sprint recently disclosed a non-binding agreement with Clearwire under which the companies will work to develop LTE roaming between their planned networks.

Clearwire is scheduled to report its third quarter earnings Wednesday.

For more:
- see this Clearwire site
- see this DSLReports article

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