In this week’s chapter of how the wireless world turns, will Sprint finally get it over with at Clearwire, and why does Dish look so depressed now that it has official permission to enter the wireless biz at last? Ah well, it may be getting old but it’s still drama.
According to multiple reports, Sprint is once again considering the consolidation of the 49% of Clearwire it doesn’t already own, bringing the latter’s vast spectrum holdings under one roof at last. While nothing is imminent, apparently the discussions have advanced further than in the past. Certainly Clearwire has been passive enough in recent quarters that they seem to be waiting for the inevitable. In light of the Softbank deal, it seems inevitable that the situation gets clarified sooner or later, but it seems certain that any actual deal that gets struck now will include language linking its closing with that of the Softbank investment. But if Sprint is confident enough about Softbank to take this step over the holidays, perhaps they’ll also take care of other business too – such as whether to fish or cut bait on the wireline side.
As for Dish, they have finally won the prized FCC clearance to build a wireless network of their own. But it was not enough to make them happy, as go-ahead comes just a few weeks after the FCC cut them off at the knees when it came to power limitations on the spectrum they hold. The FCC wants to auction off a neighboring block of spectrum, and doesn’t want the proceeds to be reduced by interference from Dish’s proposed buildout. Hence Dish’s celebration is rather muted and the current speculation has them making a deal with Sprint. But if Sprint buys Clearwire, they don’t need Dish. On the other hand, if that happens there’s always T-Mobile USA, which might be a strategically better option anyway.
And then there’s LightSquared. Oh wait, no there isn’t. Not yet anyway, that spectrum is still in limbo with the GPS industry guarding escape.
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