Both Sprint and Clearwire have been in some choppy water as of late, with Clearwire desperately needing funding and Sprint involved in a 4G spat with T-Mobile. Now the two companies are having a bit of a tiff with each other surrounding smartphone use and fees. Sprint and Clearwire have entered an arbitration process over the way that Sprint should be paying for 4G access on its EVO and Epic handsets. According to Clearwire, around 810,000 EVOs and Epics are being used outside of WiMAX coverage and, although those devices aren't using any of the WiMAX network, Clearwire believes that Sprint still owes a monthly access fee for them. Clearwire is concerned that, if negotiations don't work out in their favor, they'll end up receiving substantially less revenue in the future, which is something they don't really need to deal with right now, what with their current funding problems.
Considering Clearwire's problems and the fact that Sprint may provide them with funding some time in the future, it'll be interesting to see how this all turns out. On one hand, I can see where Sprint is coming from. If all of those 4G handsets aren't actually using 4G, why should they have to pay? Then again, there's a possibility that those devices could end up accessing WiMAX at some point, either through traveling or if a new WiMAX coverage area pops up where there wasn't any before. It's certainly a sticky situation, especially since it may have an impact on the $10 4G charge that all EVO and Epic owners pay, so stay tuned to see how Sprint and Clearwire end up settling the matter.