T-Mobile and Clearwire reportedly in early 4G discussions

According to a Bloomberg report yesterday, Deutsche Telekom is in early talks with Clearwire and MetroPCS about 4G development.

The report cites unnamed sources who said that a bid to buy Sprint, as had been previously rumored was highly unlikely. Instead, the sources said Clearwire needs a $2 billion investment by the end of the year to complete its WiMAX expansion, and that Deutsche Telekom could provide that funding in exchange for access to the network.

But alignment with WiMAX would be out of character for T-Mobile. The company decided to go with LTE as its 4G standard in 2008, and at Mobile World Congress In February, the company set up a live LTE demo network with equipment vendors Nortel and LG.

Only a couple of weeks ago, T-Mobile announced it had set up the first multi-user mobile LTE test network in the city of Innsbruck, Austria with equipment provided by Chinese manufacturer Huawei. "With this showcase we implemented a completely new generation of mobile network...these tests are paving the way to the customer experience of the future," T-Mobile Austria's CTO Jim Burke said at the time.

However, talks between T-Mobile, MetroPCS, and Clearwire -- assuming Bloomberg's report is accurate -- do not necessarily mean T-Mobile will be changing its plans for supporting LTE. All three companies are significant wireless spectrum license holders, and the construction of a new network depends largely upon what wireless real estate can be obtained.

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