This is the tie-up that finally makes sense. After several rumors surfaced saying that Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile unit is in talks with Sprint, Bloomberg is reporting that Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA is also in discussions with a company much closer to home.
According to unnamed sources, talks are underway between T-Mobile and Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR), located just a few miles away in Kirkland. Clearwire would allow T-Mobile to catch-up with the competition because it has the spectrum needed to build a 4G network. Meanwhile, the partnership could be attractive to Clearwire because it would provide additional capital and add some clout as it builds out a first-of-its-kind network in the U.S. Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. who didn’t favor a T-Mobile-Sprint (NYSE: S) merger because of all the network technologies involved, said: “This would be an answer that would be good news for everyone. It helps check the box for T-Mobile, which is desperately seeking a 4G answer.”
Bloomberg reports that the talks also involve Sprint Nextel because it owns 51 percent of Clearwire, and that T-Mobile is also considering a partnership with MetroPCS Communications, which also has access to additional spectrum.
Although a T-Mobile-Clearwire partnership makes the most sense, it’s not without some hiccups. First off, Clearwire already has plenty of partners, including Sprint, three cable operators and Google (NSDQ: GOOG). It also has picked WiMax for its network technology, whereas T-Mobile’s alliances lie with LTE. However, Clearwire has said before it would be willing to consider LTE, or in this case maybe T-Mobile would be willing to WiMax, which would give them a head start in the U.S.