Best Buy is beefing up its recently launched wireless broadband service in a deal with 4G provider Clearwire.
Through its Best Buy Connect service, which debuted just a few weeks ago, the electronics retailer plans to offer customers a new 4G tier starting in 2011. The company says Connect network coverage is currently available in "dozens of cities" across the United States, with a further expansion in the offing.
"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," said Jed Stillman, vice president of Best Buy Connect, in a statement. "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."
With the deal, the companies said, Best Buy becomes the first major wholesaler to join the Clearwire 4G uber-network after Clearwire's strategic investors, which include Comcast, Sprint, Google, Time Warner Cable, and Intel Capital.
Clearwire is building a 4G network across the U.S. using the WiMax wireless technology and expects the network to reach 120 million people by the end of the year, about three to four times as many as it's serving at the moment. It's got a head start, but rival providers such as Verizon Wireless, which is using the LTE technology, are working furiously to launch their own 4G networks.
Charges for Best Buy Connect's current 3G service range from $30 to $60 per month.