Sprint, Clearwire to enter arbitration over out-of-network Evo, Epic handsets

FierceWireless is reporting that U.S. wireless carrier Sprint and its WiMAX-network partner Clearwire have entered arbitration over the monthly rate the latter company charges for WiMAX enabled smartphones on its network. Currently, around 810,000 Epic and Evo handset owners use their device in areas where Clearwire’s service is unavailable. Despite this fact, the WiMAX network provider continues to charge Sprint a monthly fee for the devices existence.

According to the report, Sprint filed for arbitration on October 29th of this year to resolve the dispute. As most Sprint, WiMAX-enable handset owners know, the wireless company charges a $10 monthly premium for its 4G handsets whether the service is available or not; there is no information available that indicates the $10 tariff could be reduced or dropped if the arbitration were to favor Sprint. Allegedly, Sprint pays Clearwire $4.46 per 4G-handset user.

“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,” said Clearwire.

“We do have an agreement between the parties,” added Clearwire Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert. “What we have right now is a difference in the interpretation of it.”

The news comes on the heels of a dismal Q3 earnings call where the company announced a 15% reduction in work-force to help “raise short-term funding.”

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out and how, if at all, it affects the monthly charge Sprint passes on to its 4G handset owners.

[Via PhoneScoop]

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