Report: Sprint conflicted about T-Mobile investing in Clearwire

Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) board is grappling with whether to allow rival T-Mobile USA to invest in Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which will need more money to continue its network buildout, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal

The report, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said T-Mobile has not submitted a formal proposal, so no decision is imminent. Further, the report said, some Sprint board members are strongly opposed to such a move. Sprint holds a 54 percent stake in Clearwire and also serves as a wholesale partner of the company, reselling Clearwire's mobile WiMAX service under its Sprint 4G brand.

T-Mobile USA CEO Robert Dotson confirmed in March that that the nation's No. 4 carrier has talked with Clearwire and various cable companies about a possible joint venture to enhance T-Mobile's spectrum position. Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said the company is interested in making T-Mobile USA a wholesale customer on its network.

Representatives from Sprint, Clearwire and T-Mobile declined to comment.

Clearwire, which is scheduled to test LTE network technology this fall, is busy expanding its network: The company expects to have 80 mobile WiMAX markets up and running by year-end. Indeed, the company today announced it launched service in Boston, Providence, Rhode Island, and Daytona Beach, Fla., actions that bring WiMAX to 52 markets covering 60 million people.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, is forging ahead with its HSPA+ network buildout. The company said it plans to offer HSPA+ with theoretical peak speeds of 42 Mbps in 2011. However, T-Mobile does not have the kind of spectrum holdings Clearwire owns, and does not hold 700 MHz spectrum like Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). (Verizon and AT&T plan to launch LTE in their 700 MHz holdings.)

"T-Mobile would love to be in," one source told the Journal. But does Sprint "want to help them that much?" the person said. "And at what price?"

T-Mobile does not yet need additional spectrum but is "actively exploring a variety of options that would provide" it, T-Mobile spokesman Reid Walker told the Journal. One possible option for T-Mobile besides a partnership with Clearwire is to become a wholesale customer of LightSquared, which is building a hybrid satellite-terrestrial LTE network.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see these three releases about Clearwire's buildout

Related Articles:
Sprint's 4G chief stands behind WiMAX despite LTE rumblings
Sprint may add LTE to 4G arsenal
Clearwire raises $291M in rights offering
A Clearwire LTE switch won't bring wireless harmony overnight
Clearwire to begin testing LTE, promises speeds of 20-70 Mbps

Suggested Articles

MWC may be on an enforced hiatus this year but there's no shortage of device announcements that still need to go ahead as 5G momentum gathers pace.

Cisco on Tuesday touted the benefits of cloud-native software as part of its successful proof of concept for a 5G standalone (SA) network with KDDI.

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and O-RAN Alliance announced a liaison agreement that ensures alignment in the area of open RAN solutions.