November 11, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Sprint and Clearwire are in an almost comical back-and-forth over the HTC EVO 4G and Samsung Epic 4G. Sprint currently has to pay a wholesale sum to Clearwire because the EVO and Epic obtain 4G through Clearwire’s network. The arrangement doesn’t sit well with Sprint because paying wholesale means the company is charged even for customers who don’t live in markets with access to Clearwire’s 4G network. FierceWireless reports that the two companies are entering arbitration to resolve this issue.
The funny part of this situation is that EVO and Epic customers have been complaining about the very same thing that Sprint is trying to stop. Subscribers with a 4G-capable phone must pay a $10 monthly surcharge even if their home market lacks 4G coverage. Sprint has justified this by claiming that this is really a “premium data charge” for the large of amount of data someone is likely to consume with these high-powered devices. If you believe that, I’ve got some Enron stock that I’d like to sell.
Is it possible that Sprint charges everyone because Clearwire charges WiMAX prices regardless of whether WiMAX is available? It’s very plausible, but Sprint won’t go on record saying that. Will the carrier drop the $10 monthly plan if it wins arbitration with Clearwire? Absolutely not. The logistic headaches and financial losses of doing that makes that a bad business decision.
As much as it pains me to say, people really need to let this 4G fee thing go. We all know that Sprint is charging us extra, but it still costs less than AT&T and Verizon. We’re definitely being shafted, but the only solution is to not buy either the EVO or Epic in protest.