A hearing date of March 21 has been set for the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee to hear testimony regarding the wireless spectrum deal that Verizon (NYS: VZ) made with several cable companies. Besides exchanging $3.6 billion in cash for a quiver of unused spectrum frequencies, the wireless carrier also agreed to co-marketing agreements with the companies. The potential anticompetitive nature of those agreements will be the center of the inquiry.
It turns out that Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) had been in secret talks with MetroPCS (NYS: PCS) to buy the smaller wireless carrier. Whether those companies could have harmonized, we'll never know -- Sprint's board of directors balked at buying Metro at a 30% premium to its current share price. Some see the board's action as a black eye for Sprint CEO Dan Hesse.
Chris King, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co., told Bloomberg, "It certainly indicates a different line of thinking between Dan Hesse and his board." This is not encouraging for Hesse's future at Sprint, he added.
Brother, can you spare $2 billion?
Where Sprint would have gotten the $8 billion or so it would have needed to consummate a deal with MetroPCS is anyone's guess. Indeed, they are already planning to sell $2 billion worth of notes to raise money for Clearwire's (NAS: CLWR) 4G LTE network build-out. Plus, they are still committed to shelling out $15.5 billion to Apple (NAS: AAPL) over the next four years for a bunch of iPhones it hopes it can sell without losing money on them.
All in the family
According to Fiercewireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the carrier expects to begin offering shared data plans by the middle of this year. But those like myself, with several 3G mobile devices on a family plan with Verizon, shouldn't get too excited yet. It sounds like the company could be using this as a ploy to get us to buy LTE devices. Shammo says "this will be more of a 4G play for us."
I hope that's not the case, but I can certainly see it going that way.
Last one out, turn off the LightSquared
Sanjiv Ahuja, has resigned as CEO of beleaguered wireless operator LightSquared. The company had failed to get FCC approval of its hybrid satellite/earth station 4G LTE network due to its signals interfering with GPS devices. Ahuja will stay on as chairman, but the future of the company is in doubt. Last week LightSquared announced that almost half of its 330 workers would be laid off.
The third coming?
Rumors are swirling as Apple has sent out invitations to the media to attend an event in San Francisco on March 7. Could it be for the announcement of the iPad 3? The invitations merely read, "We have something you really have to see. And touch."
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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorDan Radovskyhas no financial interest in the above-mentioned companies. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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