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Best Buy Plans Private-Label 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



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 wireless-broadband USB modems and 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 USB wireless
and expects to offer additional broadband-connected hardware in the fall, a
spokesperson told TWICE.

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.”