Hesse attempts to dispel concerns over Clearwire's future

SAN FRANCISCO--Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse downplayed concerns about Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) funding issues and what those problems may mean for the future of Sprint's 4G network plans--Sprint holds a 54 percent stake in Clearwire and resells its service under the Sprint 4G brand.

Sprint Dan hesseSpeaking at the Open Mobile Summit here, Hesse said Sprint might still invest additional money into Clearwire despite the company's troubles. Clearwire recently announced it would cut its workforce and delay some of its launch plans due to funding problems. Hesse said Clearwire's announcement was just a technicality and part of required SEC accounting.

However, Hesse stopped short of saying that Sprint would invest more money in Clearwire. He noted that Sprint has "historically injected more cash into the company."

Separately, Hesse declined to confirm a Wall Street Journal report earlier this week that claimed Sprint decided not to select Huawei or ZTE for its network modernization project because of security concerns. "It's all speculation," he said.

During his keynote, Hesse also reiterated Sprint's plans to keep offering unlimited data plans to its customers despite the fact that many of its competitors (AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA) have introduced tiered data price plans. "We want to maintain unlimited. We will watch usage and see what we can do. Users like simplicity."

However, Hesse said carriers are challenged to keep their price plans low amid increasing costs related to data usage and smartphone subsidies. "There is no easy answer. The key has to be new revenue sources--like applications. We don't want to increase rates or phone prices, but something has to give."

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