MetroPCS throws hat into Clearwire’s spectrum ring

18 Oct 2011

MetroPCS chief financial officer Braxton Carter has told investors that the pre-paid wireless carrier is considering buying 4G capacity from Clearwire to boost its service in large metropolitan areas. Dow Jones Newswires quotes Carter as saying: ‘We might be uniquely positioned to maybe do something with Clearwire from a wholesale standpoint. Our primary goal has been to acquire additional spectrum in our markets’. Speaking at a Deutsche Bank Securities Leveraged Finance conference, Carter reportedly indicated Clearwire’s 2.5GHz spectrum could prove valuable as a high capacity overlay for MetroPCS’ network in urban centres.

In August 2011 WiMAX operator Clearwire officially declared its intention to roll out a network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE), targeting ‘densely populated, urban areas of Clearwire’s existing 4G markets where current 4G usage demands are high’. The operator indicated that the robust, all-IP infrastructure already deployed in its WiMAX markets will be leveraged to serve its LTE needs, delivering significant capital cost savings, comparable to similar overlays carried out by operators using existing 3G architecture. However, earlier this month, Sprint Nextel – which owns 54% of Clearwire – declared that, going forward, it will be building out its own independent LTE network, effectively bringing to an end its long-standing network partnership with Clearwire; the cellco is currently locked into a wholesale deal worth at least USD1 billion for the use of Clearwire’s 4G network until 2012.

United States, Clearwire, Metro by T-Mobile