MetroPCS: We Could Use Clearwire's Spectrum


Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) may offer MetroPCS (NAS: PCS) a solution for overcoming the company's spectrum deficit. But it's just one of many options MetroPCS is currently weighing. Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Securities Leveraged Finance conference, MetroPCS CFO Braxton Carter said the company is "uniquely positioned" to do something with Clearwire and even suggested that Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum could provide a hot spot overlay for MetroPCS in major metropolitan areas.

Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote in a research note that a wholesale agreement with MetroPCS would be good news for Clearwire, which needs additional wholesale partners given Sprint Nextel's (NYS: S) recent decision to start using its own spectrum for LTE.

However, Chaplin cautioned that it's unlikely that MetroPCS will sign a deal with Clearwire until the Department of Justice's lawsuit against AT&T (NYS: T) over its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA is resolved.

But MetroPCS is exploring other options besides Clearwire. Interestingly, Carter mentioned that the SpectrumCo partnership's AWS spectrum was very appealing to the firm. SpectrumCo is the joint venture of cable companies Cox, Comcast and Time Warner Cable that spent $2.4 billion in a 2006 FCC auction on AWS spectrum licenses covering a large part of the U.S. Braxton noted, however, that the SpectrumCo joint venture hasn't shown any signs of wanting to monetize that spectrum.

MetroPCS currently offers LTE service in 14 markets. However, the company's LTE footprint is dwarfed by Verizon (NYS: VZ) Wireless' LTE play. MetroPCS owns both PCS and AWS spectrum, and has an average of 22 MHz of spectrum in its markets.

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