Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, is discussing an investment in Clearwire with cable companies like Comcast, reports Bloomberg. Under one scenario being discussed, Sprint would use the money to buy the equity in Clearwire it doesn’t own. Talks are preliminary and no deal is imminent, reports Bloomberg.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks are already investors in Clearwire. They, along with Sprint, might help fund the money-losing Kirkland, Washington-based company so it can build out its high-speed wireless network.
While Comcast and Time Warner already resell Clearwire’s WiMax, a Sprint wholesale agreement may allow cable companies utilize TD-LTE. Currently, if cable subscribers also want wireless voice service, they must use a different spectrum segment, for example Sprint’s 3G CDMA band. In the future, Voice over LTE may integrate both services into one 10-20 MHz band.
Clearwire plans to spend about $600 million to upgrade its network to so-called long-term evolution, or LTE, technology.
The size and timing of the investment in Sprint haven’t yet been determined, Bloomberg reports. The discussions involve various scenarios, including a Clearwire buyout or an investment in the company through Sprint, the people said. Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems have also been in discussions with Sprint, two of the people said.
Sprint has not yet announced official support for TD-LTE, but the company is widely expected to make an official announcement in early October.
LTE Advanced expands the effective coverage of small cells, or Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets), as Qualcomm calls them.
Few doubt there’s a growing shortage of spectrum. The global 2.6 GHz band is gold.
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