Clearwire has outsourced the management of its WiMAX network to Ericsson in a seven-year deal similar to Sprint’s managed services contract with the infrastructure vendor.
Clearwire will transfer 700 employees to Ericsson before mid-2011.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Clearwire said the deal will help it reduce costs. Clearwire has already laid off employees and put its smartphone plans on hold in an effort to rein in expenses.
“Clearwire’s effort to reduce costs and maximize efficiency while delivering a high quality mobile broadband service to our customers extends to all parts of our business,” said Clearwire COO Erik Prusch in a statement. “By engaging Ericsson, a proven leader in managed network services, we can achieve those objectives.”
Ericsson will handle network engineering, operations and maintenance, including field services, network monitoring, end-to-end engineering, provisioning and routine maintenance.
Clearwire will retain ownership of the network assets, still has full responsibility for future technology and strategy decisions and will remain the primary contact for customers, wholesale partners and equipment vendors.
“The responsibility for network engineering, operations and maintenance of one of the leading mobile broadband networks in North America is one that Ericsson takes very seriously,” said Angel Ruiz, head of Ericsson’s North American operations, in a statement.
Ericsson’s deal with Clearwire is the company’s second managed services contract in the United States. In 2009, Ericsson signed a similar seven-year network outsourcing deal with Sprint, Clearwire’s largest shareholder and wholesale partner.
Ericsson has managed services deals with several operators around the world. The company says the networks under its management serve more than 800 million subscribers worldwide.
Clearwire’s stock rose slightly on the news, climbing just about 5 percent in morning trading on the NASDAQ.