Sprint: New Investment in Clearwire?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Members of Sprint Nextel’s board expect the carrier to make a “substantial” new investment in Clearwire, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, reports Fierce Wireless

The report cautioned that no final decision on funding Clearwire has been made. One source told the Journal that the exact size and timing of the investment will depend on how quickly Clearwire can restructure its operations. The funding would help Clearwire into 2013. Sprint is expected to detail more of its 4G strategy at an investor meeting Oct. 7.

Sprint, which owns about half of Clearwire, is paying Clearwire $1 billion through the end of 2012 for use of their spectrum.

Clearwire’s announcement of LTE-Advanced indicated the company would apparently use the same 30 MHz of spectrum it currently uses for WiMAX – just partioned differently. Instead of using different 10 MHz frequencies on each sector, the new plan would reuse the same frequency on all sectors. One 10 Mhz chunk would be dedicated for WiMAX and a 20 MHz chunk would dedicated for LTE-Advanced. All three sectors would share those frequencies.

Sprint-Nextel may soon offer wholesale LTE service to other operators using Clearwire’s LTE-Advanced spectrum. Sprint plans to support Mobile Virtual Network Operators. MVNOs provides mobile phone services but do not have their own spectrum.

MVNOs owned by Sprint include Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. TracPhone, a subsidiary of América Móvil is the largest virtual operator. Virtual operators also include telematics companies like OnStar and KORE Telematics. Smaller cellular operators like Leap Wireless, MetroPCS and US Cellular also need 4G spectrum.

Sprint’s has the spectrum. They are also planning new network architecture that can deliver a variety of providers and frequencies on one tower.

LightSquared claims five customers may use their terrestrial LTE capacity, including Leap Wireless, Cellular South, SI Wireless and Open Range Communications. Really? They’re going to have to deliver service first.

New mobilized entrants may be looking for wholesale LTE spectrum to deliver a package of services. They could include Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Time Inc, USA Today, Fox, as well as telecom companies like Lightsquared and Dish Networks. Cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner Cable could offer both voice and data on 2.6 GHz spectrum.

Even if Dish Networks partners with Verizon for 40MHz in the 2 GHz band, Sprint would easily have double Verizon’s LTE bandwidth and the same goes for AT&T.

According to information inadvertently released in an FCC document, AT&T plans to upgrade 44,000 nodes to LTE over the next two years, including 8,000 nodes this year, 16,000 nodes next year and 20,000 nodes in 2013. Expanding its LTE network into areas left out of its previous plan will involve 18,000 cell sites. AT&T’s first LTE plan covered just 80 percent of the U.S. population, but the company says it will expand the network to 97 percent of Americans if the T-Mobile deal is approved.

In other words, it would cost AT&T $3.8 billion to build an LTE network covering 97 percent of Americans, but $39 billion to acquire T-Mobile in order to achieve essentially the same goal.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Spectrum Drama: Made for TV, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced, Lightsquared Files Official FCC Report, Lightsquared: Plan “B”, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, German 4G Auction: It’s Done, Auctions Winding Down in Germany & India, Germany 4G Auctions Begin, Europe to Follow, EU: Global LTE Roaming at 1.8 GHz, T-Mobile Makes Its (4G) Move, End Near for Indian WiMAX?, WiMAX & LTE: Policy Vs Pragmatism, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, TD-LTE Gains Momentum, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, Yota Dumps WiMAX, UK Getting LTE, WiMAX to TD-LTE: Everybody’s Doin’ It, Speculation on Sprint Infrastructure, Sprint’s LTE Advantage, LTE-Advanced Tested in Korea, ITU: The “Official” 4G Standard Approved, IEEE Submits 802.16m to ITU for 4G, LTE-Advanced Submitted to ITU

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, August 11th, 2011 at 9:24 am .

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