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FCC clears Sprint-Clearwire WiMAX merger

Originally announced in May of this year, the merger between the WiMAX divisions of Sprint and Clearwire is coming ever closer to reality: the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced that it has unanimously passed the deal with a 5-0 vote. FCC regulators hope that the merger will inject "new and meaningful competition into broadband marketplace." The decision was reportedly delayed due to AT&T's request that the new company should face the same higher scrutiny applied to itself, because of the new company's large wireless spectrum holdings; however, after hours of discussion, regulators decided in favor of Sprint, declaring that its holdings were not comparable to those of AT&T.

The new company will still retain the name Clearwire, which hides the underlying fact that Sprint will have a 51% stake in the company, with the original Clearwire only holding onto 27%. The rest goes to a partnership of five companies including Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc., and Bright House Networks, which will invest $3.2 billion into the merged company. Clearwire hopes to reach as many as 140 million users with its WiMAX network by 2010.

WiMAX has often been labeled as a wireless alternative to broadband, capable of delivering theoretical speeds of up to 70Mb/s, though the technology has been slow to take hold, with Pakistan currently having the largest functional WiMAX network in the world.

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