Sprint Is Buying Clearwire For $2.2 Billion

In an effort to rival its bigger peers, Sprint snaps up the other half of the massive wireless company.

Sprint already owned about a 50% interest in Clearwire, but today it's just confirmed it's buying the remaining half of the company for around $2.2 billion in cash. With the deal, Sprint inherits Clearwire's $5.5 billion in debt and other spending obligations, but also clarifies structural issues about how it can use Clearwire's tech. What's more, the move gives Sprint access to Clearwire's subscriber base, which includes 88 markets in the United States covering 134 million potential subscribers.

Clearwire owns rights to radio frequency spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range and provides service primarily using the 4G 802.16e mobile WiMAX standard. Clearwire also provides service to customers in 17 U.S. cities using the Motorola Expedience 802.16d radio interface that the company refers to as Pre-4G. Today Clearwire ranks as the fifth largest wireless provider in the U.S. with roughly 11 million subscribers that use the WiMAX network as of January 2012.

Just a few months ago, roughly 70% of Sprint, the U.S.'s No. 3 cellular operator, was bought by Japanese mobile giant Softbank. AT&T, meanwhile, was trying to buy T-Mobile, in an effort to consolidate its 4G network rollout. But that deal fell through, and AT&T has said it's now going to complete nationwide LTE 4G rollout anyway by 2014.

Are these sorts of massive acquisitions good for the industry, do you think? Or should these firms compete with each other more aggressively, and thus potentially drive down your phone bill? We have some ideas about what you might say, but please do so below!

[Image: Flickr user fsse-info]

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