10/03/2011 03:29 pm ET | Updated Dec 03, 2011

Sprint Reportedly Makes Huge Gamble On IPhone 5: WSJ

Thought you were excited for the new iPhone? Try being Sprint.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Sprint paid over 20 billion dollars for access to new iPhones through 2015. As part of that deal, they have agreed to buy 30.5 million iPhones from Apple, regardless of whether or not they are able to sell them, which works out to Sprint subsidizing each handset by $500.

As of March 2011, Apple had sold 100 million iPhones worldwide, in the four years of the phone's existence; they did not release country-by-country or carrier-by-carrier data on that point.

The Wall Street Journal headline--"Sprint to 'Bet The Company' on iPhone"--pretty much sums up the huge monetary and strategic gamble the mobile carrier is making on the Apple smartphone. Sprint is currently the third-largest carrier in the United States, is betting the farm, the barn and all the animals on the continued success of the iPhone; that it will be able to retain and attract new customers only by carrying the iPhone; and that, given that its network is consistently rated better than AT&T's, it will be able to lure away some of AT&T's company's disgruntled customers. There are also rumors that Sprint will retain its unlimited data plans when it gets the iPhone, which would make it the only carrier in the United States to do so.

Sprint did not comment on the article, and it still has not confirmed that it is getting the next-generation iPhone, expected to be announced at an Apple media event on Tuesday, October 4. Company spokespeople have gone to great lengths to not mention

On the heels of the WSJ report came another one by tech site Boy Genius Report, which is claiming that Sprint will get exclusive access to the iPhone 5, whenever it is released. BGR's anonymous source claims that Apple will unveil the smartphone-on-a-budget iPhone 4S tomorrow, a gadget that will be available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint; in the future, claimed the source, when Apple releases its iPhone 5, it will come with 4G capability and be available only on the Sprint network.

Neither Sprint nor Apple have responded to requests for comment on either report. Sprint stocks are down as much as 9 percent, hitting its 52-week low, following the release of the Journal story, which you can read in its full, behind-the-scenes glory on the WSJ website.

Take a look at our speculation roundup for a look at what to expect at Apple's big event tomorrow, then check out the slideshow (below) for the juiciest Apple rumors from last year.

This Week In Apple Rumors: The iPhone 5 Will Be Announced This Week