In the latest twist on the Sprint-Clearwire saga, Verizon Wireless apparently has entered the picture as a suitor for Clearwire's spectrum.
Verizon Wireless has offered to pay as much as $1.5 billion to acquire spectrum leases from networking company Clearwire, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites people said to be familiar with the matter. The move would give the carrier "right to use airwaves currently controlled by Clearwire in big markets in the U.S.," the Journal said.
Word of the Verizon offer came hard on the heels of the announcement this morning that Dish Network is offering $25.5 billion to acquire Sprint Nextel, upping the ante in the acquisition game. Last fall, Japanese carrier Softbank unveiled a $20.1 billion merger proposal for Sprint.
In December, Sprint said it had reached a $2.2 billion deal to acquire the shares of Clearwire that it doesn't already own. Sprint is already the largest single shareholder in Clearwire, which provides 4G services to carriers and consumers in select markets. The spectrum that would be acquired in that arrangement would help Sprint as it continues its 4G LTE rollout.
A month later, Dish then made its own unsolicited bid to buy Clearwire for $5.15 billion.
The Wall Street Journal said it's unclear whether Verizon Wireless has any ambitions with Clearwire beyond the spectrum purchase or how that move might fit in with Sprint's Clearwire deal.