Yesterday, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire joined forces in their respective efforts to develop a nationwide WiMax network. The companies signed a letter of intent that spells out terms for joint network construction, roaming, product and service evolution, marketing, branding and distribution. In a press release, the companies proclaimed that the arrangement “is expected to provide broad benefits to consumers, businesses, educators, the Federal government and public safety users by fostering quicker, broader and more efficient deployment of a mobile WiMax broadband network than either company could accomplish on its own.” Representing another step in Clearwire’s effort to boost its national profile, the deal also follows on Clearwire’s recent agreement to bundle its wireless broadband services with satellite TV services offered by DirecTV and EchoStar. According to sources, the joint Sprint-Clearwire network would constitute the first nationwide mobile broadband network to be based solely on WiMax technology, which provides wireless Internet connectivity over a much larger area than its older cousin, Wi-Fi. Together, the partners would coordinate their efforts to build the network, with Sprint Nextel focusing on geographic areas that cover 75% of the population of the 50 largest markets and Clearwire concentrating on regions that cover about 115 million persons. Subscribers to each company’s WiMax service, to be offered under a single brand name, would be allowed to roam seamlessly on the network. Clearwire customers would also be able to use Sprint’s existing broadband EVDO network facilities in areas where WiMax is not available. A final agreement on the arrangement is expected within 60 days, and the companies hope to deploy network facilities capable of reaching 100 million customers by the end of next year. As the pact also calls for the transfer of spectrum between Sprint-Nextel and Clearwire, FCC approval would also be required.