July 29, 2010 / 1:26 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-Clearwire, Best Buy in wireless partnership

* Clearwire to let Best Buy use its wireless network

* Best Buy will offer new 4G service, starting 2011

* Clearwire shares down 2 pct; Best Buy down 0.2 pct (Adds Clearwire executive quote, share update)

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) - Clearwire Corp CLWR.O has agreed to rent space on its network to Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) so that the electronics retailer can sell wireless services directly to consumers, the companies said on Thursday.

Clearwire, which is roughly 54 percent owned by Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N), has long said that it was talking with a wide variety of business customers with an aim to boosting its revenue by renting out unused capacity on its wireless network.

In a bid to win more shoppers, consumer electronics chains like Best Buy are now making a bigger push to become one-stop shops by offering both electronic gadgets and the wireless services required to connect them all.

Under the deal Best Buy will sell services using a high-speed wireless network Clearwire is building based on an emerging fourth generation (4G) technology known as WiMax.

Starting in 2011 it will offer a new 4G option for its recently launched Best Buy Connect broadband service, which connects computers wirelessly to the Internet using Sprint’s slower third-generation network.

Clearwire Chief Executive Bill Morrow said the deal helps his company reach a wider group of potential customers via Best Buy’s stores.

Morrow said said the company is in talks with a wide range of companies, including other operators, with a view toward creating more deals like the Best Buy agreement.

“We have plenty of interested parties we’re in discussions with. I fully expect to have more agreements signed by the end of the year,” Morrow told Reuters in an interview.

Aside from Sprint, Clearwire’s cable investors Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Time Warner Cable Inc TWC.N already have wholesale agreements with Clearwire to offer mobile services.

Clearwire investors also include Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O)

Best Buy shares were down almost 2 percent at $34.44 in afternoon trade on New York Stock Exchange, while Clearwire’s stock was down 2.9 percent at $6.94 on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Sinead Carew and Dhanya Skariachan, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Gerald E. McCormick)

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