Another Gain for Clearwire?
Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) wasn't the only wireless carrier signing a deal to use LightSquared's proposed 4G LTE network only to have those hopes dashed by LightSquared's failure to get that network approved. Leap Wireless International (NAS: LEAP) , operator of the Cricket brand wireless carrier, signed a deal last March for LightSquared to supply roaming LTE coverage to Leap's own planned LTE network.
Since LightSquared hasn't been able to prove to the Federal Communications Commission that its hybrid satellite and earth station LTE network does not interfere with GPS signals, its deal with Sprint is now on life support. That plug is likely to be pulled at the end of the month, which will give Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) an opening to become Sprint's major LTE provider.
Leap, which announced last month that it had begun a test deployment of its LTE network in Tucson, Ariz., will probably also be left without LightSquared's services. This could -- emphasis on "could," because this is pure speculation -- be another opportunity for Clearwire to pick up another LTE client.
According to a report from Fierce Wireless editor Mike Dano, Leap CEO Doug Hutcheson was asked recetly at the Citi Entertainment, Media, and Telecommunications Conference whether his company would consider getting into a wholesale LTE agreement with another company. He did not mention the Leap/Lightsquared agreement but did say that "to the degree that we can see attractive pricing on a wholesale basis ... that is something that the business been open to."
Clearwire's CFO, Hope Cochran, was at the same conference and said, "We have a tremendous amount of capacity and we would love to have another customer to be able to utilize that capacity."
So we have two companies here that could benefit mutually from a wholesaling agreement. There would be complications, though. They use different LTE technologies: Leap uses what's known as an FDD-LTE network that uses the 700 MHz frequency range, and Clearwire uses TDD-LTE in the 2.5 GHZ frequency range. That would probably mean Leap would have to forgo its current buildout and switch technologies.
Of course, I'm playing the matchmaking yenta here, but such a lovely couple they could make. Discuss.
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Editor's note: A previous version of this article failed to credit a key source. The Fool regrets the oversight.
At the time this article was published Fool contributor Dan Radovsky has no financial interest in the above-mentioned companies. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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