Verizon denies Clearwire talks, eyes LTE devices

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 11, 2011 6:04 PM
Verizon denies Clearwire talks, eyes LTE devices

By Lisa Richwine

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Verizon Wireless denied on Tuesday the No. 1 U.S. mobile service is talking with Clearwire Corp about the possibility of using the smaller operator's wireless airwaves in high-demand areas.

CEO Dan Mead also promised several new devices for the fastest Verizon Wireless network by year-end and said the operator has plenty of airwaves for the high-speed wireless network that it is building.

"We're not ... in any talks" with Clearwire about spectrum,

Mead told Reuters in an interview after speaking at the CTIA wireless industry conference in San Diego.

Clearwire executives said in September they were talking with U.S. wireless operators, including AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless about selling network capacity, as Clearwire looks to expand its wholesale business beyond its biggest client, Sprint Nextel Corp -- also Clearwire's majority owner.

Mead said Verizon Wireless does not see the need for a partnership with Clearwire.

"We have a very defined spectrum policy," said Mead. "We are going to cover 185 markets by the end of this year (with LTE). We are very pleased with where we are at," Mead added, also promising more LTE device news in coming weeks.

He said Verizon Wireless, would increase the number of LTE devices it is offering to more than 20 by year-end, up from the company's current LTE lineup of 14 devices, including phones, tablets and data cards.

It is possible one of the new devices is from Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc, as the companies are holding an event on October 18 to announce "the next big innovation" from Motorola.

At a recent investment conference, Verizon Communications Chief Executive Lowell McAdam was asked about which wireless spectrum bands could be of interest to Verizon and raised some eyebrows by including in his response the 2.5 gigahertz spectrum band in where Clearwire owns spectrum.

Clearwire Chief Executive Eric Prusch also told Reuters in an interview last month his company was talking to everybody in the U.S. wireless industry about selling capacity on a network Clearwire is looking to raise money to build.

A Clearwire representative declined comment on Tuesday.

Clearwire, which is majority owned by Sprint Nextel Corp, has said it needs about $900 million in funding, including $600 million to upgrade its network and up to $300 million to keep the business operating.

Clearwire has said the company is exploring the sale of network capacity while it also looks at raising new funding through equity, debt, vendor financing or a potential spectrum sale. Sprint indicated last week it has no plans to offer Clearwire future funding.

Mead declined to provide details on Verizon's sales of the new Apple iPhone 4S, which is now available for pre-orders before hitting stores on Friday.

"We're very pleased with our partnership with Apple," he said, declining to provide numbers on phone sales.

Verizon Wireless is a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in San Diego and Sinead Carew in New York)