Sources close to Sprint and Clearwire are suggesting that a WiMax joint venture is close to being agreed, with an announcement potentially as soon as this week. The two companies have been negotiating since earlier this year, ostensibly around roaming agreements for the two compatible but separately-owned high-speed cellular data networks, but rumors persisted that third party investment was being courted to fund a unified WiMax system. Now, Intel has been fingered as the significant investor, with a suspected $2 billion in funding, with other sources expected to chip in also (Best Buy and Google have previously been tipped as potential finance sources).
Intel has a vested interest in seeing WiMax succeed, as it originally developed the technology and requires a usable national network in order to realistically market products. Proponents have always insisted that WiMax will be cheaper for customers than the LTE next-gen networks selected by AT&T and Verizon, but this has not helped Clearwire who apparently used up $400 million of a total $1bn in cash & investments over the last quarter in simply operating the company.
Neither Sprint nor Clearwire would comment on the rumors.