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Sprint's Clearwire acquisition could signal move towards data

Sprint acquired Clearwire today, never heard of Clearwire? Well you've heard of Sprint, right? Japan's Softbank is in the process of acquiring a majority share in Sprint and some have wondered what it has planned for the number three carrier.

To compete with AT&T and Verizon, which have about 70 percent of the market, Sprint needs more spectrum and Clearwire has it. That spectrum allows Sprint to deliver more data, faster.

"Softbank wants Spint to acquire Clearwire to get a hold of all the spectrum that they can because they want to transfer the wireless industry," says Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst. But just what that transformation is going to look like is uncertain.

Clearwire only offers data services. It was one of the first companies to offer a high-speed wireless Internet connection. And Kagan says that might give us a glimpse of where Sprint is headed:

"You have to remember the wireless industry has changed dramatically more than five years ago it was basically a voice industry and we used data just a little bit."

Kagan says talking on the phone rates as the fourth or fifth reason people use smartphones.

And he adds, Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire could signal that the company will now focus on offering expanded data plans to become more competitive.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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