We just got done breaking down the proposed Dish-led acquisition of Sprint which is in no small part about gaining control of Clearwire's sweet, sweet spectrum. Now we're hearing that Verizon is reportedly also throwing its bid in, but not to buy any of the companies involved. Just to gut their ability to function as wireless carriers by gobbling up spectrum.

In a recent filing, Clearwire disclosed that an unidentified "Party J" offered up to $1.5b for the airwaves that it owns. According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is that secret party. This could throw a kink in Sprint's plans. If Sprint decides to go with SoftBank's offer, buying Clearwire is a required condition of that deal. Dish's offer has no such requirement, though the ISP does expect that the Clearwire purchase will go through, so it may reconsider if that doesn't go as planned.

Meanwhile, however, Clearwire shareholders are not entirely pleased with Sprint's buyout offer. Some think that the company is worth more than Sprint is willing to pay. Others think that instead of accepting a buyout, Clearwire should sell off some spectrum and continue to stay afloat on its own. The company is currently facing bankruptcy if it doesn't get acquired or sell off some assets, so that may be a risky move. However, an extra $1.5b must look pretty enticing, considering Sprint was only offering $2.2b for the entire company, while Dish was offering $2.4b (though the perks of the Softbank deal may lead Clearwire to prefer Sprint's offer, despite the smaller payout).

However, the bigger question is whether anyone really wants Verizon to be the buyer for Clearwire's spectrum. You may remember Big Red as the carrier that bought a lot of airwaves in a deal that's kinda shady. The company currently operates one of the two largest and fastest LTE networks in the country, a position it surely didn't get to by deciding it had plenty of wireless holdings and didn't need anymore. But spectrum is a finite resource and the less there is for other carriers to use, the harder competition will become.

What's clear is that the mobile landscape is in a bit of turmoil right now. T-Mobile and MetroPCS are on the GSM side of the camp trying to merge, while Sprint is now facing two competing offers for a buyout while itself trying to acquire Clearwire, which is in turn trying to decide whether it should sell itself to another company, or just gut its spectrum holdings for a cash infusion. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon continue to loom over the market as an ever-growing shadow and threat. Oh, and whether it succeeds in buying Sprint or not, we can be fairly confident that Dish is going to enter the mobile carrier game at some point, if it can just find the right company to partner with.

Get all that? Good.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://twitter.com/punitvthakkar Punit Thakkar

    Yeah no Eric. Obviously got it the first time around. *scoffs*

  • Craig Simpson

    They will let dish buy sprint. 1 To keep the Company US owned
    2: Sprint needs the help to stay competitive. Dish has the AIrwaves that sprint needs to make 10mhz and 20mhz LTE to stay in the game.

    • RaptorOO7

      Dish/Sprint merger is a solid case, and allows for a true customer advantage plus the spectrum Dish has would be of great benefit for Sprint as an LTE network. Lets get moving Dish/Sprint since Google doesn't seem interested in actually building out a Wireless carrier.

      • TonyArcher

        f that. I want a usable competitive carrier, and not have to worry about everyone streaming their hoppers. Dish owning Sprint is the worst case scenario.

    • Ewesuk

      Screw Patriotism. Hope you like paying more for American. Cell plans AND Dish plans are already expensive. Softbank kicked ass by being competive. Having another giant US company will not lower prices.

      • http://twitter.com/TwinShadow_SH Ryan

        That's real arrogant to say IMO. I'm a proud American and I will be more than happy to buy any product labeled "100% Made in America" even if the cost is more than something tagged "Made in China/Taiwan/India/Indonesia/etc". Any real American would be proud to buy products made where things have started. But hey, to each their own.

        • Ewesuk

          You are exactly who Dish wants. Blind Patriotism at the expense of the consumer. You are fine getting screwed as long as its a US company right? ts more about the price, it what we as consumers get out of the deal. Not any damn article talks about what people truly want: lower prices for qualit

          • Craig Simpson

            i did not say it out of BLIND anything. I was refering to the fact the average american is afraid of their data being owned and controlled by out of country people. IE why sprint won't be using chinese parts in their build out.

            Also I say dish because sprint does need the spectrum they need to continue building out. It makes sense form a certain view point.I was speaking solely from a business advantage point not from the consumers wallet point. Sometimes the best choice isn't always the one everyone wants,

            Thing is Sprint needs spectrum and not many places to get it. yet with a buy out there wont be any transfer issues with the FCC if a merger is approved. They would already have the airwaves.

          • Ewesuk

            It's because it's from a company in Communist China is why regulators are worried. Even then those fears we unfounded through third parties. Sprint only agreed to stop using it to grease the wheels. Yet they were fine with a Japanese company owning Sprint.

            The average American could care less about data. Look at Blackberry, it was governments that wanted it locked down. It wasn't for consumer security it was to spy on their mobile data.

          • http://twitter.com/TwinShadow_SH Ryan

            I have no intentions of ever using Dish. Satellite dishes don't even work terribly well in my area sometimes anyway, so no need.

            My point is, I'm tired of seeing everything, including our own American flag and military uniforms, tagged with "Made in China" or somewhere similar. I would love to see how a truly American company can run things without shipping 100's of thousands of jobs overseas to dodge taxes and the like. But without getting too political, I hold my country very close, and soon enough, we won't have a choice as to what we can and can not do anyway. Just take a look at the voting map and the fact our Southern borders (in which I live in a border state mind you) are wide-open.

          • HopelesslyFaithful

            on the taxes part....let us see a corporate company somehow remain competitive while having to pay 40% in taxes. No company can....US corporate tax causes the problems that we have today. Those taxes have to be reduced if the US wants to see competition again in the US

  • TonyArcher

    We at s4gru think this is only for the leased EBS spectrum, so Sprint can take its BRS and go home. This would be a good deal for Sprint I think. Another good deal would be to let Dish have Clearwire and the EBS spectrum, but Sprint gets its BRS spectrum back.

  • RaptorOO7

    Ok at this point Verizon has NOT used their existing spectrum either efficiently or fully and there is no justifiable reason for them to be allowed more spectrum until they can prove a real case use for it.

    Buying spectrum up to prevent others from getting it is not a business case, its no more than Apple suing Samsung just to delay their sales.

    Plus Sprint is trying to buy out ClearWire, SoftBank and now Dish Network are trying to buy our Sprint so whose on First, I don't know is on second and the FCC doesn't care about consumer needs on Third.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      its called preparing for the future. Your vision is just limited.

      • Ewesuk

        This is At&t's false argument for buying T-Mobile. Even the DOJ made recommendations against selling future spectrum to At&t / Verizon unless they prove they really need it. Furthermore they made a thinly veiled remark that "smaller carriers" should get priority since they will actually use it preserving a competitive market.

  • Goldenpins

    There have been a few articles since last week about how the FCC plans on limiting how much specific carriers can buy (spectrum) they pointed at ATT/Verizon but here they are again needing more spectrum. At this point I want an outsider like softbank to take over sprint to get new ideas from a different perspective.

    • Ewesuk

      The best thing about Softbank is they are already an experienced cell phone company. I honestly believe Dish just wants more shitty priced bundles that looks good in the short term.

  • commander

    You couldn't be that naive to think that lower prices will come for quality. The reason these carriers charge is because of the need for the increased demand for these services. That's America and overseas. It costs billions of dollars to build a successful 4g LTE network. Carriers are looking to charge more. Its about what the consumer is willing to spend for its needs not what the carriers are charging. These carriers save much more money running 4g. Its much faster, runs lower frequency, great latency, and penetration is greater than 3g. Don't think for one minute that any carrier is a bout consumer first. They want to get paid. If you are willing to invest 20-25 billion dollars for a struggling cell company where is the payback coming from? The consumer. Technology has always come at a price. How can you down Sprint being run by America when there are trust issues now from the Koreans about consist cyber security and sabotage? Yes Dish would be a new company to wireless not data. Data is where the money is. Where they have the ability to compete. Soft Bank has dollar signs in their eyes because they know Americans will spend money for these services. There is nothing wrong with Dish or any other carriers eyeing them for the same reasons.