Dish has elected to ditch its pursuit of Sprint for the time being and concentrate on its potentially winning bid for Clearwire. The satellite TV firm said in a statement that it wasn't going to make an updated offer for the third-largest US wireless provider, after beating it in the board vote for Clearwire, an ISP in which …
Is this a mad dash for outdated technology? Sprint uses the dog-awful CDMA. Clearwire IIRC used the failed 4G contender WiMAX. Why would anyone want such things? Sure you'd get their spectrum, but then you'd have to invest into building up the infrastructure from the ground up, as both CDMA and WiMAX are dead in the water.
While the CDMA backend is basically dying, the radio side of it isn't. EV-DO Rev B is fairly recent, and a lot of the CDMA designs were incorporated into 3G GSM (hence "W-CDMA"). CDMA phones are still crazy popular, and it's going to be years before CDMA is completely shutdown.
The biggest challenge is LTE expects a GSM backend, but eHRPD fixes that, and Verizon, MetroPCS, and yes, even Sprint, have deployed it successfully. Sprint already has a LTE network, after all, and their SprintLink backbone to help backhaul it.
The biggest question is WHY Clearwire. Sure, they own a ton of spectrum that Sprint donated to them. But with Sprint being the majority shareholder, I'm not sure what DISH thinks they'll be able to accomplish.
It is not about the technology. It has everything to do with the spectrum. Dish already owns a lot of spectrum. Clearwire has a lot of adjoining spectrum. By owning contiguous blocks, Dish could easily acquire FCC waivers to run high power transmissions in those spectrum. Their waiver in a similar move in December 2012 raised their commercial value of holdings from the purchase price of that spectrum segment from $3 billion to over $12 billion.
Light Squared tried a similar reallocation, but their transmissions bled too much into adjoining spectrum and the FCC refused to waiver. It essentially bankrupted LightSquared. Dish is getting around the by buying enough spectrum to allow them to pump a lot of high power transmissions right in the center of spectrum they control with no risk to adjoining spectrum.
But that's the point though. Sprint is still the majority stakeholder in Clearwire. Do you really think they're just going to hand the spectrum over to DISH, a minority shareholder?
In a few years that spectrum could be worth much more than the cost of buying Clearwire or Sprint, either to sell on or for installing services. Either that or it'll become a white elephant and in a few years we'll see someone else buying Dish.
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