Clearwire to Auction Spectrum to Raise $5 Billion for 4G Build-out

Deutsche-Telekom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and others are among the interested bidders in Clearwire's massive wireless spectrum holdings.

Clearwire, operator of the WiMax 4G high-speed data network used by Sprint Nextel, is selling a portion of its massive spectrum holdings in an effort to raise money to continue the build-out of its 4G network currently used by Sprint and others.

The Clearwire auction is attracting T-Mobile USA parent Deutsche Telekom as well as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and cable operators Time Warner and Cablevision, according to a story in Bloomberg News quoting unidentified sources.

Clearwire has had discussions already regarding an equity investment with T-Mobile and is trying to raise the necessary funds to build out its network without that investment. Analyst estimates are that Clearwire needs at least $2 billion for the fourth-quarter build-out of its network.

Currently, spokespeople for the networks said to be interested in the Clearwire spectrum are either declining comment or are not available. The Bloomberg News story said that the bidding for the spectrum is in its second round and is being managed by Deutsche Bank AG.

Clearwire is a joint venture, with Sprint Nextel as the majority owner. However, there has been significant dissention on the Clearwire board, with the result being that three senior executives from Sprint Nextel resigned from Clearwire's board.

Speculation at the time was that the board resignations were the first move to open a way to investment by Deutsche Telekom. Reports this weekend from sources close to the Clearwire situation indicate that Clearwire's board has been in meetings over the weekend about this auction.

The spectrum auction appears to be a final attempt to raise the money Clearwire needs to build out its network before taking T-Mobile's offer of an equity investment. T-Mobile is interested in Clearwire's LTE efforts, currently undergoing tests. Much of the dissention on the Clearwire board is said to be regarding the potential for Deutsche Telekom to have a significant interest in Clearwire along with Sprint.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...