Sprint “The Enabler” May Come To Clearwire’s Rescue Again

Dan Hesse has got to be feeling like Al Bundy these days, you know with his wallet out sitting on the couch. Several industry sites are reporting that Sprint has been talking with cable companies and other Clearwire investment partners about taking over the whole kit and kaboodle.

In 2008 Clearwire merged with Sprint and their own wimax unit Xohm, leaving Sprint with 54% of the company. The original Clearwire shareholders were left with 27% of the company while a consortium consisting of Google, Comcast, Time Warner, Intel and Bright House Networks own the remaining 19% of the company.

More after the break

According to Bloomberg, Sprint has been in talks with Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks, weighing using an investment to fund the acquisition of the percentage left with “Clearwire” and the percentage left with the original consortium.  It’s worthy to note that Motorola made a 900 million dollar investment with Intel into Clearwire.  Now that Google is going to own Motorola, that may mean Google has a bigger stake in the company.

The three cable companies with ownership in Clearwire resell the service as “wireless broadband” with Time Warner leading that pack. Sprint is also talking with Cablevision and Cox Communications. Although neither of those cable companies own an interest in Clearwire Sprint is looking to them as possible investors, should they purchase Clearwire.

If Sprint is successful in buying the rest of Clearwire this will be the third time that they have infused money into the Kirkland based WiMax provider.  Earlier this year Sprint said they would pay Clearwire $1 billion dollars to continue using their 4G network through November 2013.  Add that to this rumored deal along with their initial investment and this makes the third time Sprint has run to Clearwire’s aid.

Although most industry analysts saw a move like this coming, Sprint may not be rushing to add Clearwires negative balance to their existing balance sheet.  Sprint also announced that they were investing $9 billion dollars in Northern Virginia based Lightsquared for 4G/LTE service.  LightSquared is still in the midst of straigthening out some things with the FCC over interference with GPS bands. If that issue isn’t resolved with the FCC Sprint has an out from the Lightsquared deal.

All of this is coming after Clearwire announced that they have achieved speeds of 100mbps in field tests of the newest version of 4G/LTE. The only problem was that they needed the money to roll it out.

Clearwire made aggressive strides in the second half of 2010 to make sure they hit their 2010 roadmap however expansion has been at a screeching halt while Clearwire looks for the money to keep operating.

Source: Cnet Bloomberg 1 Bloomberg2