Best Buy, Clearwire Partner on 4G Mobile Broadband

Best Buy and Clearwire are teaming up to offer customers access to 4G mobile broadband service through the retail chain's Best Buy Connect brand.

Big box retail giant Best Buy and wireless broadband service provider Clearwire July 29 announced a "strategic wholesale relationship in which Best Buy will use Clearwire's 4G network to offer mobile Internet service to customers under the Best Buy Connect service. Beginning in 2011, Best Buy will offer a new 4G tier for its recently introduced Best Buy Connect service," Clearwire said.

Jed Stillman, vice president of Best Buy Connect, said the partnership with Clearwire would "enable Best Buy Connect to leverage the Clearwire 4G network's speed and bandwidth to deliver compelling new mobile broadband experiences for our customers." He continued, "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. We believe consumers will appreciate the added advantage of relying on Best Buy Connect for both 3G and 4G mobile broadband services beginning next year."

Clearwire's statement said, "Best Buy Connect was conceived to help accelerate mobile broadband adoption by providing consumers the convenience of one-stop shopping for devices, service activation, billing and customer support from Best Buy." It also said, "Best Buy Connect will offer its customers 4G service options that use the Clearwire network currently available in dozens of cities across the United States, with network coverage expected to continue to expand."

"Best Buy is at the forefront of providing consumers with the best in consumer electronics products and services, and we are very proud to provide the mobile broadband network that will enable them to offer their own branded 4G service to their broad customer base," said Teresa Elder, president of strategic partnerships and wholesale at Clearwire. "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. We look forward to supporting Best Buy in the months and years ahead."

Earlier in July, Clearwire announced the in-store and online availability of the Clear Spot 4G and Clear Spot 4G+ mobile hot spots. The company also announced that it has begun filling preorders for both devices. The Clear Spot 4G is a personal mobile hot spot allowing users to securely share unlimited Internet access anywhere Clearwire has coverage simultaneously with up to eight WiFi-enabled devices. The Clear Spot 4G costs $99.99 or can be leased for $4.99 a month. Monthly Clear service plans start at $40 per month, according to the company's Website.