Updated from 6:42 a.m.
rocketed 32% in early trading after the wireless broadband company said it would join with
to build a nationwide mobile broadband network using WiMax technology.
The companies said Thursday morning they will also promote the global development of services based on the not-yet-standardized wireless format known as mobile Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access. Theoretically, the new network will soon deliver the sort of speedy mobile Internet connections that people now enjoy at their desktops.
reported in April that Sprint was making a big bet on WiMax in hopes of beating its bigger, better-run rivals,
, to the mobile-Internet punch.
Sprint budgeted about $2.75 billion for the effort, which at the time called for the company to roll out so-called 4G service in 19 U.S. cities by the end of 2008.
Now, the company is saying it's joining up with Clearwire because the arrangement is capable of "fostering quicker, broader and more efficient deployment of a mobile WiMax broadband network than either company could accomplish on its own."
Joining with Clearwire will add scale to Sprint's WiMax push, and will also give the company the Craig McCaw stamp of approval. McCaw is the wireless industry pioneer who founded Clearwire.
Sprint Nextel and Clearwire expect to build their respective portions of the nationwide network, and enable roaming between the respective territories. The companies also will work jointly on product and service evolution, shared infrastructure, branding, marketing and distribution. Additionally, the companies intend to exchange selected the 2.5-GHz spectrum in order to optimize build-out, development and operation of the network.
Big partnerships have goosed Clearwire before. Last month, Clearwire
soared 18% in a single day on plans to offer WiMax service through satellite TV partners
The stock has had a bumpy ride since it came public to much excitement back in March at $25 a share. An early swoon sent the stock down as much as 36% this spring before a recent recovery fueled by the DirecTV tie-up and growing interest in WiMax.
Shares rose $7.88 to $32.66.