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Clearwire Discusses Funding Options, Talking With T-Mobile USA

Clearwire Corp., a unit of Sprint Nextel Corp., is reviewing funding options and is in talks with existing and new investors, including Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, a Clearwire spokesman said.

“Other alternative sources are also being considered that include the possibility of issuing additional debt and, or selling a small portion of our assets, which may include spectrum that is not critical to our business plan,” said Mike DiGioia of communications firm JLM Partners Inc., which represents Clearwire.

He confirmed comments made by Clearwire Chief Executive Officer Bill Morrow at a Goldman Sachs Corp. conference in New York Sept. 23 and first reported by Reuters. DiGioia said in an e-mail that T-Mobile USA is “one of many companies” that Clearwire is talking to. Deutsche Telekom spokesman Andreas Leigers declined to comment.

Europe’s biggest phone company, whose T-Mobile USA unit accounts for a quarter of revenue, lost market share in the last few years to bigger rivals like Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. They were quicker to upgrade to higher-speed third-generation networks and offered customers more attractive handsets, such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

The company risks falling behind again as competitors upgrade to fourth-generation networks for which Deutsche Telekom doesn’t have the necessary wireless spectrum.

“We’ll get a fourth-generation wireless network either by buying spectrum or re-farming existing spectrum, or potentially leasing spectrum together with others,” Deutsche Telekom’s Chief Executive Officer Rene Obermann said at a press conference on Aug. 5. “I don’t think we’ll trail others in the next two years.

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