Report: DT now wants access to Clearwire, MetroPCS spectrum for 4G

More rumors are swirling regarding Germany's Deutsche Telekom's intentions in the U.S. market. This time, DT is reportedly looking to gain access to spectrum controlled by Clearwire, which is 51-percent owned by Sprint Nextel, and MetroPCS Communications. Recently, rumors have centered on DT's interest in Sprint Nextel alone.

According to a Bloomberg News report citing people familiar with the talks, DT is seeking the most cost-effective way to build nationwide high-speed data networks. Sprint Nextel is reportedly involved in the talks with DT. WiMAX provider Clearwire has said it needs about $2 billion by the end of the year to finish its network rollout. Of course, DT has ample funds, and could provide those funds in exchange for access. MetroPCS owns licenses in the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) band and the PCS band. It also owns one A-block 700 MHz license in Boston. It recently announced it had chosen Ericsson to built its LTE network by 2010. Interestingly, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said last week that he would be willing switch the operator's focus from WiMAX to rival 4G technology LTE if it was in the best interest of the company.

Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA business hasn't announced a solid timeframe for a move to LTE, but could end up becoming the mobile broadband dark horse in the race to offer higher data speeds. Last week, T-Mobile USA's Neville Ray, senior vice president of the carrier's engineering and operations, said the operator plans to have HSPA+ up and running by 2010 on a nationwide basis, which could make it the operator with the highest data speeds in the largest footprint. While it has a weaker footprint today, the operator has indicated that it expects to cover 200 million pops by year-end, adding an additional 100 cities to its coverage. In August, the operator said it covered about 176 cities and 121 million people with its 3G network. Meanwhile Verizon will be launching LTE in 30 markets next year, while AT&T said it is going to skip HSPA+, which bumps HSPA networks to peak rates of 21 Mbps, and instead focus on LTE.

According to Bloomberg's sources, DT is unlikely to make an offer for all of Sprint. "This deal would involve significantly less money, but still allow T-Mobile to offer 4G services," Dave Novosel, an analyst at Gimme Credit, wrote in a report. "It would avoid the burdensome integration process and considerable upfront costs of assimilating operations."

Representatives from Sprint, Clearwire and Deutsche Telekom all declined to comment, citing policies of not commenting on rumors or speculation. A MetroPCS spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg News article

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