Best Buy To Offer Its Own 4G Broadband Service


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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