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Best Buy Offering 4G Mobile Broadband


Best Buy has begun reselling
Clearwire’s 4G Mobile WiMAX data
service, and has entered into an agreement
with LightSquared to offer that company’s
planned 4G LTE voice and data service sometime
next year.

Both services will
be marketed under
the retailer’s own
Best Buy Connect
wireless broadband
services brand.

The Clearwater
deal, first announced
in July, will
enable the retailer to offer wireless-broadband
service on 23 computing models from Asus,
Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony and
Toshiba at most of its stores. Best Buy will also
provide service activation, billing and connection

The service will initially be priced at $45 per
month for unlimited 4G service with a monthto-
month or two-year contract. Best Buy will
waive the $35 activation fee for customers
who purchase the two-year contract, and will
provide an additional $150 off select hardware

In contrast, the LightSquared agreement
would bring voice service to the retailer’s portfolio
of Best Buy Connect wireless services,
which was launched last July with the rollout of
Sprint’s 3G wireless broadband-data service.

Best Buy is targeting first-quarter 2012 trials,
said LightSquared chairman/CEO Sanjiv
Ahuja, who announced the deal during a keynote
speech at last month’s CTIA convention
in Orlando.

Under the current Best Buy Connect program,
the chain acts as an MVNO, billing consumers,
providing customer support, and selling
mobile computing devices embedded with
wireless modems at subsidized prices with
wireless activation.

“We’re finding that customers increasingly
want choice in service providers for mobile
broadband,” said Best Buy Connect VP Jed
Stillman. He described the company’s mobile
offering as “an end-to-end option that gives
them the freedom to connect virtually, whenever
or wherever, and the convenience of one
point of contact — Best Buy — for selection and

LightSquared, which also announced a
roaming agreement with Leap Wireless at
CTIA, plans to build a terrestrial wholesaleonly
LTE voice and data network that will
reach at least 100 million Americans by the
end of 2012. The company will also wholesale
satellite-based LTE service, which in
some cases will be integrated into phones
and devices that also offer terrestrial LTE

During his keynote, Ahuja predicted that
LightSquared’s wholesale business model
would be profoundly disruptive to the wireless
industry’s vertical model, wherein carriers
own networks and content, control distribution
channels and handset purchasing, and compete
with their own retailer partners.