Sprint's 4G Predicament

Sprint has put a lot of money into developing and marketing its 4G network. This 4G network is made possible by the partnership between Sprint and Clearwire. Currently, Sprint has the majority ownership in Clearwire. Clearwire's 4G network is expanding, and the company wants to continue rolling out the service across the country. There's only one problem: the company needs billions of dollars to finish building its nationwide network.

A few financing options are possible: Sprint could fund the project itself, or it could turn to a competitor to help foot the bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint's board of directors is debating whether or not to let T-Mobile invest in Clearwire. If Sprint would allow T-Mobile to buy in to Clearwire, the nation's third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers would end up using the same next-generation network.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile USA Chief Executive Robert Dotson indicated his company was looking at various options for 4G, with one option being Clearwire's network. Although allowing T-Mobile to buy into Clearwire may be an option, the Journal points out that T-Mobile USA hasn't put a proposal on the table and some Sprint board members are adamantly opposed to the idea.

Sprint currently has the lead in the 4G race with the country's only 4G network though AT&T and Verizon Wireless are working hard to launch their own 4G networks. Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have committed to the LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard. Although Clearwire currently uses the WiMAX standard, there's still a possibility it could switch to the LTE standard in the future. Clearwire currently offers 4G service in 49 cities.