Break out the popcorn, folks, it's time for some corporate drama. As we reported last month, LTE service provider Clearwire is looking to sell itself, with 50% stake holder Sprint Nextel the obvious choice. But while Sprint's $2.2 billion offer (plus another $800 million in staggered investments) sits on the desks of both Clearwire shareholders and the Federal Trade Commission for approval, satellite TV provider Dish Network has made another offer. They're putting $2.4 billion on the table, about $3.30 per share, and an 11% increase over Sprint's initial offering.

For the uninitiated, Dish has been gobbling up the rights to as much LTE spectrum as it can get, though its plans for leveraging those rights isn't immediately clear. Sprint's motivation is obvious: they want as much spectrum as they can to extend their currently LTE offerings far and wide, in an attempt to catch up to the much larger 4G LTE networks of Verizon and AT&T. For both parties, Clearwire's considerable chunk of wireless spectrum is worth far more than the company's infrastructure or wireless internet customers.

Unsurprisingly, Sprint wasn't too happy with the offer.

Sprint believes its agreement to acquire Clearwire, which offers Clearwire shareholders certain and attractive value, is superior to the highly conditional DISH proposal.

(I'll point out that Sprint's offering used the word "conditions" four times in a 100-word statement on the proposed buyout.)

Assuming that both deals are acceptable to the FTC, which will almost certainly be the case, it's up to Clearwire's remaining shareholders to make the final decision. Dish has been acquiring spectrum for years, though whether it wants to create a competitor to the big four American carriers or offer lucrative partnerships with them hasn't been nailed down just yet. Clearwire's stock price jumped by $.02, a little less than one percent, on the news.

Source: New York Times

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • alex


  • http://twitter.com/Xeratun Xeratun

    I'm curious if there has been any more progress in the Dish/Google talks about creating a new data-only carrier.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zippobaker Zippo Baker

    This is obviously just another move in the acquisition game, as Dish prepares to create a mobile network that is data only, in which Google will release news of their plans to work with Dish to make this the "Google Now Network", in which any phones released for, or that are compatible with, must be data only (voice, text, everything), and be open (root/s-off/unlocked/unlocked bootloader).

    That's my .02. Anyone else?

    • John O’Connor

      Sprint is already the Now Network and has had close ties to Google for years. This particular offer from Dish means absolutely nothing. I see it as a smoke and mirrors game.

      The deal as offered by Dish would not pass muster at all. You should read Sprint's "official" response. http://seekingalpha.com/news-article/5244941-clearwire-corporation-provides-transaction-update

      I actually find the entire thing humorous

      • HopelesslyFaithful

        i find any "google/dish" network pretty hokey. I have very high hopes for sprint. I see no reason they will not succeed since soft bank has billions on the line i highly doubt they will let their investment collapse..

  • Freak4Dell

    Hope DISH gets them. At least there'd be a future there, unlike if they went to Sprint.

    • Jon

      And what future is that? No one even knows what Dish wants the spectrum for. If Sprint is able to combine Clear's spectrum with their own 800/1900 mhz network, they will most certainly have a better network than Verizon or ATT. So with that said, Sprints future looks pretty bright with network vision moving forward.

      • Bob G

        Google Network > Sprint being sold by SoftBank within 7 years.

      • Freak4Dell

        Sprint's future only involves bankruptcy as long as that clown Hesse is around. Clearwire's management is terrible, too, so a Clear + Sprint combination is a formula for disaster, as it has been for the past few years. Softbank may be able to turn both around, but after the innumerable facepalms I've done after Sprint announcements/policy changes/etc., I'd rather just give somebody else a run at it. DISH certainly can't run Clear any further into the ground than Clear or Sprint have already done.

        • lumpia91791

          If it wasn't for Sprint, Clear would have ceased operations months ago. These shareholders are lucky they can still be called "shareholders". Look at all the articles where Sprint saved Clear. Where was Dish then? This is just bluster plain and simple.

          • Freak4Dell

            You're right, they likely would have gone completely out of business. What has Sprint done with Clear, though? They have absolutely nothing to show for the money they pumped into that company. Everybody talks about how Sprint can utilize the spectrum, but Clear's spectrum isn't all that great for anything other than as a backup spectrum in an urban area. It's not a long-range spectrum, so it's useless in rural applications (which is what Sprint needs to actually make their network bigger), and it can't penetrate walls well, which makes it almost useless for primary deployment in urban areas. Now, that's all well and good, because Sprint probably could use that to at least make the network stronger in the bigger cities, but I don't know that a dying company should be spending billions of dollars on a mediocre, at best, spectrum block.

            To be honest, I want to like Sprint. I loved them for over 10 years, and I've not forgotten that. The current management destroyed the company, though, and I couldn't take it any more. As a shareholder, their spend, spend, spend and pass it onto the customer policy makes me sick. It's the same issue I have with the government. It'd be one thing if they actually spent on something that helped, like putting in extra backhaul back in 2011 rather than waiting until a year later (and even now, there are cities that have seen no increase in speeds). Rather, Sprint spent billions on the iPhone, and have yet to show anything for it. They've dumped a ton of money into Clear already, and I have a strong feeling they'll spend billions (granted, far less than they did on the iPhone, but still...) on what's left of Clear, and they won't do anything of any value with that, either. If it weren't for needing to keep the only 4G option they had alive, they probably would have been better off just letting Clear die. The one smart thing they did with Clear is give up control so they wouldn't have to take the hit for liability if Clear went belly up. With their contract extended until 2015, and LTE supposedly being completely deployed by that time, I think Sprint would be better off letting somebody else just have the headache of Clear and its spectrum rather than spending more money trying to outbid them.

          • HopelesslyFaithful

            in rural areas you don't need a lot of spectrum.....its called rural for a reason....not a lot of people duh

          • Freak4Dell

            It's not about the amount of spectrum in a rural area. It's about the distance the spectrum travels. Unless you want to be putting up a ton of cell towers, 2500MHz is not good for rural areas, regardless of how much you have.

          • HopelesslyFaithful

            again that is why they have 800 and 1900 or whatever. the 800 is more than enough for rural areas and since they dont ahve enough 800 for suburbs and cities they use the 1900 which will work out great for the cities and suburbs since they can set it up to have huge data through put.

          • lumpia91791

            Well shareholder, why didn't they wait one more year to see which standard would win before the buildout? Hindsights great but people easily forget WHY Sprints LTE buildout isn't as robust as Verizon. I was glad as hell that Sprints LTE wasn't dependent on Clear.

            Hell, my WiMAX on my old Evo was constant at my house and faster then my home wifi. That kept me happy as a customer.

            Even with your analysis your still leaving out SoftBank and its interests in that 2.5 MHz spectrum. It plays a big deal in Japan, plus its starting to matter in China. Qualcomm is even including it in multiband chips. That crazy ass Japanese CEO has something brewing.

            Sprints still the best owner vs Dish even as Softbank's proxy. He's a disclaimer: I'm a Sprint and DirecTV customer!!

          • Freak4Dell

            They couldn't wait any longer, because they would have lost the spectrum. LTE wasn't available at that point...only WiMax was. I don't think going WiMax first was necessarily a mistake. Giving up on WiMax too early and completely neglecting 3G was the mistake. If they had maintained their 3G network like they should have, and deployed WiMax in more cities like they should have, they could have been a lot slower with the LTE deployment.

          • John O’Connor

            The blame for the botched wimax deployment falls on clearwire. Sprint is at fault for not communicating the buildout delays and virtual standstill to its customers.

      • Lte_Addict

        but sprint has always been behind the competition tho.....

  • anonymous

    Dish is trying to get the bandwidth for reasons besides cell phones. If u stop and think what a satellite TV provider may try and do with that much network you would realize it has nothing to do with phone calls and mobile data

  • topgun966

    I think this is actually a Google bid VIA proxy of Dish. Google has been obviously leaning at having their own network. Pumping up their sales of carrierless phones along with pushing users to more open. I can see a tie into this with Google Fiber.

  • Paul

    What the heck is Dish Network up to... Very interesting. Create your own carrier, license it out to other carriers, or maybe a secret Google partnership (that's my preferred theory). Still, I wonder.

  • Cherokee4Life

    shoot, i'm torn. Do I want my carrier to get bigger and stronger? Or do I want my real 1 true love Google to possibly get their own data only network? I don't know...

  • missinginput

    What if dish wants to use it to broadcast their video content, pairing that with chargeable data service seems like a good idea

  • yarrellray

    Yes I have been a supporter of Sprint and Mr. Hesse for years regardless of my departure from Sprint to Verizon then now Tmobile. I gotta say I hope for a Dish/Google partnership this would open up greater options for the android faithful. I can't see myself leaving T-mobile anytime soon they are moving major roads in 2013 but I'd consider the possible Dish/Google network.

    • yarrellray

      PS. That funny picture of that 3g Galaxy Nexus on Sprint makes me laugh. Can't believe people still have that device on t-mobile that Galaxy Nexus is running rings around that Sprint version that's for sure....

      • squiddy20

        Uhhhh.... The Galaxy Nexus was made available on Sprint not even 10 months ago, and even less time on the Play Store for T-Mobile's network. You're a moron if you think it isn't popular and wouldn't be around anymore. Unlike your "legendary" Evo 3D that you said would be "Sprint's flagship device well into 2012", when it was pulled from all shelves not even 2 months into the year.

    • lumpia91791

      Dish and Goole have horrible customer service. Dish keeps screwing with people's channels and Google can't do crap unless it involves email.

      "Open up greater options" what are you a Windows phone user? I don't think Android has any issues NOT being front and center on any US Carrier. By default it's the standard for new customers wanting to try smart phones.

      The average consumer doesn't give a rats ass about the OS war. I doubt having a weaker 3rd place phone company and a fledgling new provider for the minority Android diehards is gonna benefit anyone.

  • Lte_Addict

    im starting to believe those dish/google data only plans even more now, and i hope its real

  • Matthew Fry

    I'm not sure <1% counts as a "jump" in stock price :-P

  • Sycobob

    It's minor, but $2.4B is a 9% increase over $2.2B, not 11%. Just FYI.

    EDIT: Nvm, just checked the source and Dish's offer was corrected to $2.2B. It doesn't give a value for Sprint's offer, but does state that Dish's offer values Clearwire's shares 11% higher than Sprint's offer.

    • John O’Connor

      2.4B is an 11% increase over 2.2B.

      11% of 2.2B is 242M (2,200,000,000 x 0.11 = 242,000,000)

      So 2.2B + 242M (0.242B) = 2.42Billion

      • Freak4Dell

        You're over by $42 million, and Sycobob is under by $2 million, but he's closer. It's actually a 9.1% difference (really it's 9.09 with the 09 repeating infinitely, but I rounded to make it easier).

        EDIT: Apparently the actual numbers are wrong, though, according to Sycobob's edit.

        • Sycobob

          Yea, that was my point. Either way the number given is rounded, so it's impossible to say. The numbers being compared aren't even given directly in the source, so it was kind of silly for me to point it out. I just noticed the numbers didn't add up when I was reading.

          Also, John, 2.2B + 242M = 2.442B.

          • John O’Connor

            Thank you for the 2.442b correction. My fingers are flying across the keyboard as I am responding on my gnote2. I miskeyed the math but was at a stop light.

            And 9.090909090~% increase is also correct. ;-) with these estimates. Not too proud to admit when im wrong.

          • anon

            Let's reserve "not too proud" for occassions when it doesn't take multiple replies before you breakdown and actually check your math.

          • John O’Connor

            Multiple replies? I see one reply wherein I was corrected and my response with a subsequent correction. No need to be rude.

  • Asphyx

    I think it's pretty clear why they want to own data networks and thats the one thing that Cable competition has over them, Cheap Internet access to bundle thier TV service with.

    By getting Wireless access under thier control they can offer a much better service not just for the home but for phone service as well...

    It's the one weakness of the Dish service providers...Phone and Data