It’s been reported by FierceWireless that Sprint and Clearwire have entered arbitration regarding the amount of money Sprint has to pay Clearwire per month for each 4G user. Their concern is that they have 810,000 customers with 4G handsets in areas that have not yet been lit up with WiMAX 4G, yet Sprint still has to pay for those customers. ($4.46 per customer, apparently.)
We know what you – the consumers – want to know: “Wait, why are we paying $10 again?” Other costs could pad that “4G charge,” but Sprint’s calling for the dismissal from having to pay any charges for customers who don’t live in WiMAX-enabled areas. Clearwire says that if the arbitration process doesn’t go in their favor or a reasonable mutual resolution isn’t reached, they won’t be able to carry out plans they’ve previously drawn up, saying:
“If we are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of these issues, we end up agreeing to an amount less than what we expected, or the arbitration process is not resolved in our favor, we could end up receiving substantially less in future wholesale revenues than we expect or for which we have planned,”
Clearwire says that while they do have a concrete agreement with Sprint, the two parties have interpreted it differently from each other. For 4G rollouts, this could mean that – should Sprint get the benefit of not having to pay up what Clearwire originally expected – WiMAX rollouts could be carried out much slower than they already are. And if that happens, the “$10 charge” fiasco will have to be revisited considering Sprint will eventually bring on more customers who are paying for “premium data” who probably won’t get a chance to use it before their next upgrade is due.
Then again, Sprint’s been adamant in expressing that the $10 charge isn’t to pay for 4G, but because people with phones that have the 4G radios in them are more likely to use more data regardless of network type. I still don’t understand that one myself, but sure. That means that even if Sprint is favored in this case, users could still see themselves paying the $10 charge whether Sprint has to pay Clearwire or not. Anywho, this’ll be an interesting one to watch, folks.