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 IPTV Industry


Technology White Papers

LTE Network Expansion

Sprint (S) May Make A Move For Clearwire

August 22, 2011

Sprint (S : 3.25, -0.19) is in talks with Clearwire to further invest in the company or possibly even acquire it. Reuters reported that Sprint and its cable partners in the ventures have held talks over further investments into the company.

Sprint owns a majority stake in Clearwire, with cable provider, Comcast as a minority shareholder. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are other companies that have an interest in Clearwire.

Clearwire has reported that it needs between $750 million and $900 million in new funding to maintain and expand its WiMax networks. WiMax powers Sprint's 4G network and a fresh investment would help it to add LTE technology, and offer both services to wireless carriers.

This comes after Sprint struck up a deal with LightSquared last month. The agreement will see Sprint host LightSquare's LTE network for 15 years. Sprint would also be a wholesaler of the wireless spectrum to other carrier the same way it purchases spectrum from Clearwire.

If this is the case, Sprint's investment in Clearwire may not materialize. Sources who requested to be unnamed said that talks were still in the initial stages and that there was a "low probability" of anything coming to fruition soon.

Clearwire is in desperate need of funding and having a majority interest in Clearwire which might force Sprint to put funds into it. Sprint and its partners in Clearwire have not always been on the same page regarding Clearwire. Furthermore, cable companies have no need for mobile spectrum which could see a joint funding effort fall through.

However, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems Corp. were also involved in the talks and are reportedly interested in acquiring a stake in Clearwire themselves. Cable operators have not successfully been able to utilize their mobile spectrum and monetize it.

Sprint's deal with LightSquared is also contingent on the company receiving FCC approval. LightSquared has had issues over its network interfering with GPS communications and this could stall the LTE network's rollout.

Sprint could make a move to acquire a further share in Clearwire and speculation of this happening is rife. This would allow Sprint to play a bigger role in Clearwire's management. Sprint and Clearwire have also been in disagreement about the company's future but an acquisition by Sprint would give it more control.

Sources also reported that any deal with Clearwire will depend on the AT&T – T-Mobile merger. Sprint has spoken out against AT&T's acquisition saying that it would hurt competition. Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire will certainly help it better compete with AT&T (T : 29.07, -0.365) and Verizon (VZ : 35.79, -0.68), and could be a necessity if the AT&T merger goes through.

The demand for spectrum is set to rise as more bandwidth intensive devices hit the markets. Sprint could be holding valuable assets in Clearwire and LightSquared. If Sprint is able to successfully able to resell its spectrum in these companies, it could turn its luck around.




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