US mobile giant Sprint Nextel, which recently agreed to offload a 70% stake to Japan’s Softbank Corp for around USD20.1 billion, will acquire a controlling stake in wireless broadband provider Clearwire, Fierce Wireless reports, citing a regulatory filing. The move will give Sprint, already a prominent Clearwire shareholder, direct control over the latter’s extensive 2.5GHz spectrum holdings. Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will increase its ownership in the company from 48.0% to 50.8% via the purchase of around USD100 million worth of stock from Eagle River Holdings, the investment firm owned by wireless industry pioneer Craig McCaw. Although Softbank’s exact involvement in the deal has yet to be confirmed, the Japanese telco uses similar frequencies and Time-Duplex Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology in its home market, while Clearwire plans to inaugurate TD-LTE next year, over the top of its existing WiMAX network, suggesting clear common operational ground. For its part, Sprint plans to offload excess LTE traffic onto Clearwire’s network in densely populated urban areas.
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