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Quest for 4G could see Deutsche Telekom plug Clearwire's $2bn funding gap

25 сентября 2009

Deutsche Telekom is in talks with Clearwire and MetroPCS over gaining access to their networks in a bid to expand the reach of T-Mobile USA, and one possible outcome could see the German telco agree to fund Clearwire's $2 billion WiMAX expansion.

According to two people familiar with the situation the German incumbent is looking into cost-effective ways of building a high-speed next generation network (NGN), Bloomberg reported.

Sprint Nextel, which owns 51% of Clearwire, is also said to taking part in the discussions.

Clearwire plans to provide WiMAX coverage to 25 U.S. cities by the end of the year and 80 by the end of next year; however, it needs to raise more than $2 billion in additional funding in order to hit its target.

It is understood from the unnamed sources that one of the options being discussed would see Deutsche Telekom provide funding in exchange for access to Clearwire's network once it has been built.

"This would be an answer that would be good news for everyone," said Sandford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffett, in the report.

"It helps check the box for T-Mobile, which is desperately seeking a 4G answer," he said.

However, the latest rumours to involve Deutsche Telekom pose some significant questions around mobile network technology.

Clearwire currently offers services based on WiMAX technology whereas T-Mobile USA is a GSM operator.

Meanwhile MetroPCS, which is also said to be in talks with Deutsche Telekom, provides CDMA-based mobile services and has committed to launching LTE services in 2010.

Sprint became a shining beacon for the complexities of combining different network technologies during its protracted merger with Nextel, which saw it haemorrhage customers while it tried to move them from Nextel's iDEN network onto its CDMA network.

Still, if the rumours are true, it could add weight to recent comments by Clearwire's CEO Bill Morrow, who said last week the WiMAX operator could easily switch to LTE – which is shaping up to be the dominant next-generation mobile standard – if he thought it would benefit the company.

Although gaining access to Clearwire's network is not the same as a fully-fledged merger, it is one of the other options Deutsche Telekom is rumoured to have been exploring in the last two weeks.

Reports on Tuesday alleged that the operator was in talks over a possible merger between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS. Sources claimed that a tie-up could be worth as much as $5 billion.

And earlier last week a report by the Sunday Telegraph suggested that Deutsche Telekom was planning a multi-billion dollar bid for Sprint Nextel.


Источник: Total Telecom

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