Time For a Curtain Call in the Sprint and Clearwire Saga

This is the telecom drama that never ends... except the end really does seem to be in sight now.

Just one week ago, it seemed nearly certain that the four-way bidding war over wireless network operators Clearwire (UNKNOWN: CLWR.DL  ) and Sprint  (NYSE: S  ) would end up with a split pot. Sprint's board had approved an updated offer from Japanese telecom SoftBank while Clearwire recommended shareholders accepting a raised bid from satellite broadcasting veteran DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) .

Blink and you'd miss it: DISH missed a deadline to raise its Sprint offer and then officially dropped out of the Sprint battle altogether, leaving SoftBank's win down to mere formalities such as a successful approval vote among Sprint shareholders. But Sprint then turned around and raised its own bid for Clearwire to 47% above Sprint's previous bid, or 14% beyond DISH's best offer -- and immediately gained the support of Clearwire's board of directors. Money talks, you know.

So now we're looking at a brand new slam-dunk outcome. SoftBank gets to bag both of the American assets it wanted while DISH must seek its wireless fortunes elsewhere. SoftBank had a "Plan B" in place, in case the Sprint deal didn't work out. Maybe that's something DISH would consider now?

In the video below, Fool contributor Anders Bylund reviews the action so far and the implications for investors across the North American telecom market. Things are about to get real interesting around here.

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  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 2:49 PM, spokanimal wrote:

    Re: the comment above "dish must seek it's wireless fortunes elsewhere"...

    ... What has Charlie Ergen had, one day plus a weekend to decide what to do about clearwire... and people are already saying that sprint has BAGGED clearwire??

    The last, meaningful quote I heard from Ergen was last tuesday, when he said he was "dropping his bid for sprint in order to focus on clearwire".

    For people who are suggesting the roadblocks to clearwire that sprint has set up... uhh... Ergen's last bid for clearwire involved concessions... AND a full dollar over-bid. There may be another $100 million plus deal-breaker concession built into the latest, $5 sprint bid, but then, Ergen wouldn't have to pay Craig McCaw his "make whole" agreement money like sprint would, now would he... so... they both pay a price on that score.

    Sure, maybe Ergen won't bid on CLWR again, but it's way too premature to be talking with the certainty that you're using in the written portion of this motley fool piece.

    Spok

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 5:21 PM, granntt wrote:

    Although dish will not merge with sprint or clearwire, Thank the lord, dont think dish is done with sprint yet. To deliver these results for video he is going to need a lot more spectrum for its pipe dream of providing video via wireless.

    Theres much more to it than how much spectrum each carrier owns.

    Although Verizon and At&t have been gobbling up spectrum deals like there no tomorrow, you have to take into account how much spectrum is already being used for 2g and three 3g. Basically Sprint has about 30 MHz already being used, At&t is using 80MHz, and Verizon is using 45 MHz. That leaves Verizon with 60MHz, and At&t with only about 40MHz to run LTE. NOW If you

    combine sprint's 800MHz spectrum form Nextel which is about 17MHz and clearwire's 130 Mhz of 2.5 GHz spectrum( average in most areas, upwards of 180MHz in others), Sprint will have 147MHz at the least in most major

    cities.

    So, Sprint=147, Verizon=60, At&t=40, and

    T-mobile=20. Sprint will have more spectrum than all three combined and will have a monopoly in the 2.5GHz which is the most popular band for 4g

    world-wide. Couple that with the new mult-band Network Vision equipment, increased global scale from a merger with softbank, and most

    importantly increased capital, and you have a serious contender to the BIG 2.

    there is a reason Ergan did not want softbank to get all of sprint and clearwire. I think ergan may have to admit defeat and beg sprint for a network sharing deal.

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