America's third-largest carrier currently owns a little more than half of Clearwire, the Bellevue, Wash.-based broadband provider that is spectrum-rich. Acquiring that spectrum would help Sprint expand its 4G LTE network services across the country.
Big changes are happening at Sprint. Japan's SoftBank – which The New York Times says will have to sign off on the Clearwire deal – is in the process of buying 70 percent of the company. Sprint is said to be close to a shared-spectrum agreement with DISH Network that would also help it reach more potential customers with its wireless network.
Not only is Sprint trying to catch AT&T and Verizon in the highly competitive wireless race, the company needs to fend off a scrappy T-Mobile USA. The Deutsche Telekom-owned carrier is making a run at third place with its proposed acquisition of fifth-largest provider, MetroPCS – which would put it right on Sprint's tail in terms of subscriber numbers.