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Best Buy To Offer Its Own 4G Broadband Service

8/02/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

MINNEAPOLIS — Best Buy will expand
the selection of services that it offers to
consumers by launching a private-label
4G wireless-broadband service under a
deal with 4G carrier Clearwire.

The 4G service will carry the Best Buy
Connect brand under which the retailer
launched 3G mobile-broadband service
on July 11. Acting as an MVNO, Best
Buy bills consumers, provides customer
support, and sells portable computing
devices embedded with wireless
modems.

The 4G deal marks the first time that
4G carrier Clearwire is selling service on
a wholesale basis to a company outside
of its short list of strategic investors,
which include Sprint Nextel, and cable
operators Comcast and Time Warner
Cable. Clearwire also markets 4G service
under the Clear brand directly to
consumers.

Best Buy Connect joins a growing list
of private-label content and services,
including Napster, offered by Best Buy.
The chain’s entry into branded wireless
service follows the entry of Walmart into
prepaid cellphone service beginning
last fall.

Best Buy’s current 3G broadband
service, wholesaled from carrier Sprint
Nextel, offers plans with and without
contracts at monthly prices starting at
$29.99 for 250MB. The company activates
service on the Dell Inspiron Mini
1012 netbook and expects to offer additional
broadband-connected hardware
in the fall, a spokesperson told TWICE.
USB modems are also planned.

Teresa Elder, Clearwire’s president of
strategic partnerships and wholesale,
said, “This new agreement is particularly
strategic for our ‘network of networks’
business model. Not only is this one of
the first major wholesale agreements
beyond our group of strategic investors,
but it also demonstrates the interest in
our network from companies outside of
traditional service providers.”

Jed Stillman, Best Buy Connect VP,
commented, “This agreement paves the
way to providing one-stop shopping and
support for mobile broadband as more
people become more connected across
all kinds of devices.”

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