Just in time for Clearwire's upcoming debt interest payment (which is due today, and which it was considering skipping), Sprint has swooped in with a $1.6 billion bailout. Part of the funds from Sprint will be used to make this $237 million payment, keeping Sprint's WiMAX partner in business for now. The remaining funds will be used to upgrade and improve their existing WiMAX coverage and start building out their new LTE network.
This deal also extends Sprint's network-sharing agreement with Clearwire, which was set to expire at the end of 2012. This means that WiMAX capable phones and tablets such as the HTC EVO 3D or EVO View 4G will continue to operate on 4G for at least three to five more years.
While Clearwire still seems to be focusing on LTE for their next-generation 4G network, it does seem helpful that part of these funds will be used to at least fill in some existing gaps in WiMAX coverage. This doesn't necessarily mean that there will be any new WiMAX markets, but it does mean that at least some existing WiMAX markets might start to see some improvements soon.
Sprint has stated that it still plans to discontinue sales of WiMAX-capable devices by the end of 2012.[Bloomberg | Phandroid] Thanks, Brant!