Sprint Nextel and Clearwire said it will combine their wireless broadband units to build nationwide wireless network to provide high-speed Internet connections for laptops and cellphones.
The venture is expected to be valued at about $14.5 billion and will receive a $3.2 billion investment from Intel Corp., Google Inc., Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks, according to a Sprint statement.
Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint Nextel Corp. will be majority owner with a 51 percent equity stake, while existing Clearwire shareholders will receive about 27 percent interest. The new company, to be named Clearwire, would cover big areas of the country, extending much farther than the local hot spots associated with current WiFi networks.
WiMAX says it will offer faster download speeds than the latest networks run by cell-phone operators, and it's even portrayed as a potential competitor to fixed-line broadband.
Meanwhile, Sprint also announced a new partnership with Google to make more of the search engine's content available on Sprint devices. Sprint devices will have Google as the default search engine on and will also make Google Maps and YouTube videos available.
Clearwire shares jumped 7.4 percent at the start of trade, but was recently up 18 cents or 1.09 percent to $16.63. Sprint shares were down 6 cents or 0.65 percent to $9.13.