Cricket Wireless and Best Buy Join Light Squared’s LTE Network

CTIA has been a major bust for new devices, or at least devices that we haven’t heard about, but the technology news keeps flowing out of the show at a staggering rate. Cricket Wireless, a small regional carrier specializing in low-cost, non-contract phone plans, has signed on to take advantage of the troubled LTE launch. Putting a pair of Samsung offerings behind their launch, Cricket has notched a great little space out for itself in the 4G races. Cricket’s move will allow them to match MetroPCS, one of their major competitors, at a much faster pace than if they were to wait on a roaming agreement with a major partner.

Fast forward to today, where Best Buy, the powerhouse retailer, has reached an agreement to offer LTE service via Light Squared as well. Best Buy is currently using the Sprint/Clear WiMax powered 4G network for their base. The theoretical speeds of LTE are superior to WiMax, but the penetration of LTE networks is very soft at this point. Best Buy Connect launched in 2010 in 40 markets and has expanded to 77 markets already with plans to grow to 200 markets in the future.

Currently, speculation has Clear/Sprint changing to LTE coverage in 2012 when their market deployment agreement with Intel is fulfilled. Clear’s former CEO remained committed to WiMax until his sudden resignation last month. Clear is bound to an agreement with Intel until November 28, 2011 to maintain their WiMax network. After that date, Clear may choose to switch to LTE, which could cause Best Buy to pull out from their agreement with Light Squared.

Light Squared is scheduled to begin their LTE testing early in 2012 with roll outs to continue after that testing concludes.

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