Sprint Nears Network Sharing Deal with LightSquared, Clearwire

April 19th, 2011 by · 3 Comments

According to the Wall Street Journal today, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S, news, filings) is close to deals to share its national wireless footprint with both LightSquared and clwr.  In the case of LightSquared, Sprint would get a mix of cash and spectrum usage, the latter of which might help them reduce roaming costs in rural areas.  Meanwhile, talk of such a deal with Clearwire suggests also that resolution of that pesky wholesale pricing issue is at hand.

Really though, it would be much bigger news if Sprint *weren’t* in the back room hammering out alliances with these guys.  The news of the TMobile/AT&T merger pretty much forced that issue.  Sprint’s vocal objections are more visible perhaps, but seeking safety in numbers is also a basic human response.

For Clearwire and LightSquared, such a deal would lessen the capital requirements of their buildout.  That ought to make their backers breathe a bit easier, though it certainly won’t turn the sky blue overnight.  That GPS issue doesn’t seem to be going away for LightSquared, which this will do little about.   And Clearwire’s need for scale and the improved operational numbers that should come with it now dwarfs all other needs.

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