Just a week after Google offloaded its stake in struggling wireless telecommunications provider Clearwire, US operator Cricket has today signed a five year deal with the company to leverage its forthcoming LTE Advanced-ready network and “off-load services” to supplement its own 4G service.
Cricket Wireless now becomes the second operator to utilise Clearwire’s 4G network, helping it to deploy LTE across two-thirds of its current network coverage over the next three years.
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With the larger US operators, including Verizon and AT&T, operating their own LTE radio frequencies, Clearwire’s spectrum provides Cricket with additional resources to expand its own LTE rollout, as it seeks to grow its market share and solidify its position as the fourth biggest LTE provider in the US, behind Verizon, AT&T and MetroPCS.
Cricket began its LTE rollout in December 2011, launching its first 4G network in Tucson, Arizona. Initially, the carrier has opted to support 4G USB modems but with support from Clearwire, the company may soon introduce 4G-enabled smartphones.
Google invested $500 million in Clearwire in 2008 but sold 29.4 million shares for just $2.26 each last week, totalling $66.5 million, to an undisclosed buyer. Whilst the sale was significantly lower than Google will have hoped, it was an improvement on the $1.60 per share Google said it would would seek for the holding when it first began sale talks.