It has been clear for several months now that Sprint and Clearwire executives aren't exactly getting along, something that makes the investment community nervous. Sprint has made several comments about Clearwire business practices, refused to take part in a recent debt offering, and reduced their role on Clearwire's board. While Sprint for now needs the Clearwire network, employees continue to tell us that part of Sprint's massive wireless network overhaul
absolutely involves a shift to LTE. Still, Sprint and Clearwire this week worked hard to soothe investors worried about a fractured relationship
between the two companies:
Hesse also clarified Sprint Nextel's recent decision to update its network operations was done solely to enhance the carrier's ability to utilize its assets, though he did note that one of the benefits of the new network architecture was that once completed it would allow for easier network sharing of those assets. This was brought up as the carrier made several mentions to the new network equipment being able to handle spectrum up to the 2.5 GHz band, which is being used by Clearwire for its network roll out.
While executives are busy trying to calm investors, keep in mind that while Sprint has confirmed nothing officially, Sprint building their own LTE network is a very real possibility. Sprint issued an RFP
exploring the migration to LTE, then announced a multi-billion dollar
network overhaul that could easily pave the way for such a transition, and we've heard from more than one employee that Sprint absolutely will be building an LTE network.
Sprint working on plans to build their own LTE network doesn't necessarily mean an end to the relationship, as Clearwire has also hinted at a shift to LTE -- and is currently testing LTE in their Phoenix market. It seems very likely that in two years both companies will be focused on LTE -- but whether they're working on the technology together
still isn't clear. Clearwire's debt is significant, a lot of it comes due this year, Verizon has now entered the LTE space, and the Clearwire end product is often of very inconsistent quality judging from our user reviews
and customer throttling complaints
In an incumbent dominated LTE market like this one, it's a very real possibility Clearwire doesn't even exist three years from now if they can't improve their debt situation and stabilize product quality. Calming informed investors who are well aware of this fact could take more than a few optimistic speeches.