Sprint was working on the same technology. In 2008, it rolled those operations into Clearwire, gaining a stake of more than 50 percent. Sprint pays Clearwire for access to its network, which it resells as Sprint 4G, but the technology has been orphaned as other wireless carriers have opted for another fourth-generation technology called LTE. Sprint is now building out its own 4G LTE network. Clearwire has its own plans to build out LTE, but has lacked the funds to do so — Sprint is its only major customer.
Sprint was also financially strapped, until it agreed in October to sell 70 percent of itself to Softbank Corp. of Japan for $20 billion. Clearwire shares nearly doubled in value when that deal was announced two months ago, as investors guessed that the Softbank deal meant Sprint would buy full control of Clearwire.
Sprint's $2.97-per-share offer for Clearwire is more than twice the stock's closing price of $1.30 on Oct. 10, just before the Sprint-Softbank deal was confirmed.
The Clearwire deal is contingent on the Softbank deal going through.
Sprint, which is based in Overland Park, Kan., said it expects both deals to close next summer.
Sprint's stock rose 1 cent to close at $5.56.
Associated Press writer Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this story.