DISH Network’s bid for Sprint could result in a revolutionary combination of video and mobile delivery and wireless broadband. But DISH needs Clearwire’s spectrum more than it needs Sprint’s network.
Sprint announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement to buy the nearly 50 percent stake in Clearwire that it did not already own for $2.97 a share — a bump up from the $2.90 a share that was offered on Thursday.
The improved $2.2 billion offer, Sprint said, represents a premium of 128 percent over Clearwire’s stock price in early October before speculation emerged — following SoftBank‘s investment in Sprint — that Sprint would seek to buy out the wireless network operator.
12:21PM EST December 13. 2012 – Sprint, the No. 3 wireless telecom carrier, is offering to buy the rest of rival Clearwire it doesn’t own, signaling consolidation of a fast-growing area of technology.
Seattle really is getting yanked around by wireless merger mania.
Two weeks ago it looked like the future of the region’s largest wireless company, Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, was secured by its planned merger with MetroPCS.
Now another local wireless company — Clearwire — is in play, and T-Mobile’s long-term future isn’t quite as certain.
Clearwire NASDAQ:CLWR CFO Hope Cochran said that the company will begin building out its TDD-LTE network this quarter but that construction will pick up significantly in the fourth quarter.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, Cochran said that Clearwire is in constant contact with its wholesale partners, and especially Sprint Nextel NYSE:S, about its LTE buildout. Sprint is Clearwire’s largest wholesale customer and shareholder and plans to use Clearwire’s TDD-LTE network to augment its own FDD-LTE service. Cochran said that Clearwire is “talking to Sprint at all times to make sure it’s there when they need it.”
WiMAX provider Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which plans to deploy an LTE Advanced-ready network by June 2013, will be able to deliver theoretical peak speeds of up to 168 Mbps by 2014, according to CTO John Saw.
Saw told GigaOM that Clearwire plans to use carrier aggregation technology in its forthcoming TD-LTE network to meld together it spectrum holdings into 40 MHz-wide channels. Such a configuration would give Clearwire spectrum channels that would be twice as wide (2 X 10 MHz–i.e. 20 MHz) as the FDD LTE channels being deployed by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). (However, Verizon and AT&T’s 700 MHz spectrum has much better propagation characteristics than Clearwire’ 2.5 GHz spectrum).
Clearwire said today it would roll out LTE in 31 markets in the first half of 2013, starting with New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. Though it didn’t detail any more launch cities, it’s not too hard to guess which ones are next. Clearwire has already said it will deploy LTE as “hot zones” in its existing 70 WiMAX markets. It’s targeting cities where demand for mobile broadband is greatest, so it will logically target the biggest cities in its current 4G footprint first.