Sprint may be hatching a long term plan with cable companies to invest in and possibly acquire Clearwire, sources tell Bloomberg. The reason is 4G LTE. The cable companies and Sprint want it and Clearwire has a plan to make it happen, but it needs funding. Clearwire, which offers wireless internet service in most major metropolitan areas, has already committed to spending $600 million to upgrade its network from WiMax to LTE, but it will need to spent a lot more to expand that network. Sprint began offering 4G service in partnership with Clearwire in 2010.
So why would Sprint want to team with cable companies? Well, they have common enemies: AT&T and Verizon.
Verizon and AT&T are rapidly building out 4G LTE networks, which provide high speed data at speeds comparable to Wi-Fi. Sprint needs a 4G LTE network if it hopes to compete with them in the wireless space, especially now that AT&T is attempting to buy T-Mobile. Cable companies like Time Warner, Bright House, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Cablevision want 4G LTE access too so they can compete against AT&T and Verizon, which are also digital television providers. Verizon and AT&T have begun offering quadruple access plans to customers, offering landline phone service, internet, television, and wireless phone service.
Sprint is supposedly talking with the cable companies and attempting to get those companies to channel investments through it. In turn, we imagine that they’d have cheap (or free) access to the resulting LTE network, should Sprint acquire enough money to buy Clearwire.
Wireless carriers in bed with cable companies. It just feels sinister somehow. Then again, AT&T and Verizon are already doing it. Is it a good thing that one company could control all of your major services or does convenience trump the potential downsides?