It appears Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) quest to sell off some of its spectrum to fund its WiMAX rollout has fizzled as large operators are dropping out of Clearwire's auction, according to Reuters.
Citing sources familiar with the situation, Reuters reports T-Mobile USA continues to be in the running, and the operator is still talking to Clearwire about a potential equity investment.
Clearwire, which is 54 percent owned by Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), already has executed various debt offerings but still needs billions more in capital to continue rolling out big markets and keep up with Verizon Wireless' aggressive LTE rollout schedule. It has been considering the sale of some of its vast spectrum holdings and is looking for equity financing.
Representatives from Clearwire, T-Mobile and Sprint declined to comment.
According to Reuters, there are remaining companies in Clearwire's spectrum auction but they only want to purchase smaller pieces of spectrum in regional markets for a few hundred million dollars. While talks between Clearwire and T-Mobile remain open, T-Mobile is also considering a deal with Harbinger's LightSquared, which is building a wholesale LTE network.
"(Clearwire) is in active discussions. T-Mobile needs to get something done more broadly on their 4G strategy, and they are giving themselves until the end of the first quarter to have something basically done," said one of the sources. "That could be Clearwire, or maybe LightSquared. But it looks more like Clearwire."
Meanwhile, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) agreed last month to sell its FLO TV spectrum to AT&T (NYSE:T) for $1.92 billion. The spectrum, in the lower 700 MHz frequency band, spans more than 300 million consumers across the U.S. AT&T said it plans to deploy the spectrum as a supplemental downlink in conjunction with its 4G mobile broadband network rollout, leveraging the resulting capacity gains to fulfill subscriber demand for rich media content. The firms expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2011, with AT&T expected to begin deploying the spectrum as compatible devices and network equipment are developed.
- see this Reuters article
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