Clearwire Corp., the unprofitable wireless-broadband carrier, added Leap Wireless International Inc. as its second wholesale customer, in a sign it may be benefiting from rival LightSquared Inc.’s regulatory troubles.
No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which will see Clearwire supplement Leap’s own network using so-called fourth-generation long-term evolution technology over a five-year period, according to a statement Wednesday. Leap had entered a long-term wholesale agreement with LightSquared a year ago.
Clearwire is seeking new partners as it transfers to LTE from older WiMAX technology. With Philip Falcone’s LightSquared mobile-broadband venture grounded by regulators over potential signal interference with global-navigation systems, Clearwire has become a potential source of added capacity.
“In the lack of other spectrum options right now, we believe MetroPCS could also be considering a more formal relationship with Clearwire,” Jennifer Fritzsche, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst, wrote in a note today, referring to the Richardson, Texas-based pay-as-you-go operator.
Leap, which sells its service under the Cricket name, has always said it would explore additional 4G partners, Amy Wakeham, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.
“The Clearwire agreement provides us with another option for supplementing our own 4G LTE roll-out and for roaming in non-Cricket markets,” she said.
In December, Clearwire’s majority owner Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel Corp. signed a four-year wholesale-network sharing agreement with Clearwire worth about $1.6 billion.
Clearwire said last month that it may need new capital to fund operations beyond next year as losses widened in the fourth quarter.