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Sprint Gains Control Of Clearwire

Overland Park, Kan. —  Sprint increased its 49.6 percent stake in carrier Clearwire to 50.8 percent with the purchase of Clearwire shares from investment company Eagle River Holdings, a regulatory filing shows.

The purchase would make Sprint more valuable to SoftBank, which is buying a 70 percent stake in Sprint for $20.1 billion, said analyst Jeff Kagan. “I think the reason they are trying to get majority control is so they can take the steering wheel rather than just sitting in the passenger seat,” he said of Sprint, which resells Clearwire’s 4G Mobile WiMAX spectrum and plans to resell Clearwire’s planned 4G TDD-LTE network to boost the capacity of Sprint’s FDD-LTE network. Prepaid carrier Cricket also plans to resell Clearwire’s LTE service.

In Japan, SoftBank is building a TDD-LTE network in the same band as Clearwire, and joint purchasing of infrastructure and handsets could provide economies of scale.

Cash-strapped Clearwire holds from 120MHz to 150MHz of spectrum in its markets, and that much spectrum combined with TDD-LTE technology could provide faster speeds than the AT&T and Verizon LTE networks would in the next few years, some analysts said.