Verizon and AT&T have been operating as somewhat of a duopoly in recent years, with Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and a handful of others splitting the modest remainder of U.S. wireless subscriber market share. As 2012 comes to a close, Sprint is lining up a bold acquisition that could propel it toward the head of the pack.
By completing its takeover of broadband communications provider Clearwire, Sprint would significantly boost its ability to expand 4G wireless network coverage and compete with Verizon and AT&T. According to Forbes, the most recent study conducted by the Federal Communications Commission suggested that Clearwire possessed more than 130 megahertz of wireless spectrum - whereas Sprint had just 50 megahertz.
Sprint already owns a majority of Clearwire's shares, but has promised to pay a premium on the remainder in a deal valued at approximately $2.2 billion. While this is certainly a significant investment for Sprint, the strategy involves much more than simply adding network capacity.
As IPWatchdog contributor Corinne Kerston noted, Clearwire's patent portfolio includes at least 10 foundational innovations for the wireless communications industry. Between network construction concepts and broadcast optimization protocols, Sprint could find itself with a deep well of proprietary technology to license.