A Foolish Week of Telecom

Called a "TV Disrupter" by Ad Age, DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) lived up to that characterization by making a counteroffer to buy Clearwire (UNKNOWN: CLWR.DL  ) out from under Sprint Nextel's (NYSE: S  ) nose.

DISH's offer -- an 11% stock price premium over Sprint's offer -- may have given some of Clearwire's major shareholders ammunition in their battle to stop the sale of the company to Sprint. They believe that Clearwire's spectrum assets are worth much more sold separately than they would bring in with the Sprint deal.

Sprint released a statement calling the DISH proposal "not viable." Further, the DISH offer "would require Sprint to voluntarily waive rights that it holds as a stockholder of Clearwire ... Sprint does not intend to waive any of its rights ."

Verizon horizon
Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) CEO Lowell McAdam may be counting on economic problems in Europe, where Vodafone  (NASDAQ: VOD  ) does three-quarters of its business, to force its Verizon Wireless partner into giving up its share of the profitable pairing.

McAdam told The Wall Street Journal at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that his company would "love to own all of that asset" -- Verizon owns 55%, Vodafone the other 45% -- and "I think [a deal] is feasible."

The two companies have been partners since 2000, but after several years with no distribution of dividends, Vodafone got a $18.5 billion payout last year. Given Verizon Wireless' value, a buyout could be quite pricey.

If, as Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Robin Bienenstock said, a value of nine times EBITDA would be likely, it would give Vodafone's share a value of about $107 billion, according to reporting by Bloomberg.

Cheaper iPhone?
What would you say to a retail price of $99 to $149 for an iPhone? Yes, for a new non-subsidized iPhone. There's rumor out there to that effect; but, as always, this "news" didn't come from Apple's communications department. It came from "a person familiar with the plans," according to Bloomberg.

However, a cheaper iPhone makes perfect sense given the exploding sales of smartphones in the emerging world's markets. But the smartphones that those consumers are buying are the so-called "white label" brands -- cheap knock-offs running Google's Android mobile operating system.

The source said that Apple has been trying to bring the iPhone price down for almost two years, and has already started talking with U.S. wireless carriers about offering such a handset.

Cheaper iPhones could also help hold off Samsung's increasing share of the worldwide smartphone market. The Korean maker offers a wide price range of handsets. The only cheaper iPhones Apple can offer are previous models.

Nokia: committed
Just in case you had any doubts, the Finnish cell phone maker wants to make sure that the world knows it is sticking with Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile operating system.

"We are, through and through, 100% committed to Microsoft and the Windows platform," Nokia VP for sales and marketing Chris Weber told Dow Jones Newswires at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Nokia probably put that out there to counter the swirl of rumors that it was starting to look at making an Android phone. It didn't make Weber's job any easier when his CEO Stephen Elop responded to a question from the Spanish press about a Nokia Android phone this way: "Anything is possible ."

Is that a tablet in your pocket?
Pretty soon, smartphones are going to get so large, cargo pants pockets won't be able to hold them. That seems to be the trend, anyway.

Apple increased the screen size of the iPhone 5 to 4-inches diagonally from the iPhone 4S' 3.5-inches .

Not big enough? Then how about the Samsung Galaxy S3 screen at 4.8-inches ? A nice screen, yes, but I think it's more purse size than jeans pocket size.

What, still not big enough? Then it's really time to buy a briefcase for this one: the Huawei Ascend Mate -- 6.1-inches of HD display .

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