Sprint looks at options for WiMAX business

Sprint Nextel is looking at various options for financing its WiMAX network as investors remain nervous over the company's fundamentals. Sprint, which is spending some $3 billion through next year to build a WiMAX network that will cover 100 million pops, is considering a partnership or joint venture with Clearwire as well as looking to get some cash from its cable partners, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For sure, supporting three technologies--CDMA, iDEN and WiMAX--is a tall order for Sprint, especially when its financial results have been lagging over several quarters. Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Forsee also said during a recent investors' conference that Sprint may consider spinning off the WiMAX unit. It's speculated that a spinoff may be part of a deal with Clearwire. A deal with Clearwire would give Sprint access to more spectrum in some key markets such as Miami and Atlanta. At the least, the two companies are likely to form some sort of roaming arrangement.

If Sprint seeks an influx of cash from its cable partners (Sprint currently has a joint venture with four cable companies, called Pivot, that allows cable operators to offer wireless services in their markets), it will likely guarantee the cable companies some sort of access on the WiMAX network. The cable MSOs have long been looking for an avenue into the wireless arena.

Sprint may in fact find a number of willing partners given that Internet companies such as Google want a piece of the wireless market but don't necessarily want to pay the heavy capital costs to build out themselves. Of course, Intel likes to throw a lot of cash at WiMAX.

For more about Sprint's options:
- read this piece from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

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