FCC Approves Sprint-Clearwire Deal
The FCC Commissioners voted unanimously to approve Sprint's transferral of its broadband spectrum assets to the "new" Clearwire. The vote brushes aside the concerns of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which had asked the government body to block the merger. The operator contended that if the FCC were to include Sprint and Clearwire's non-operational spectrum, then its proposed merger would be subject to more scrutiny, and so the application should be denied.(See Clearwire: We're Still on Track and AT&T Looks to Block Sprint/Clearwire Merger.)
Speaking at the FCC public meeting in Washington this afternoon, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin lauded the open access and device agreements from Sprint and Clearwire and suggested they could help to break down the "walled garden" offerings of cellular operators in the U.S.
"I think that’s going to continue to push others to open up their networks," he told the audience and listeners on a Webcast. [Ed. note: But only subjecting that audience to hours of elevator music.]
The vote removes one of the last obstacles to the creation of the "new" Clearwire, which will receive $3.2 billion in funding from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and others when the deal closes. (See Sprint, Clearwire Create $14.5B WiMax Giant.)
The last major hurdle for Clearwire is a shareholder vote on November 22. Some industry analysts expect that the new carrier could be created on December 1 or New Year's day, 2009, if the shareholders vote 'yes.' (See Clearwire's Closing Approaches.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung