The Clearwire deal was a widely expected move due to the close relationship between the two companies. While Clearwire's WiMax has lost significant traction, the company claims it has about 11 million subscribers, 9.7 million of which are actually Sprint subscribers that access Clearwire's network via a wholesale agreement. By itself, Clearwire would not be able to survive.
Sprint's decision to acquire a voting majority in Clearwire is another chapter in a rather confusing company history that began with a company that was created as a spin off of Sierra Wireless in 1998, ended up in Flux, a holding company managed by Craig McCraw in 2004. Sprint came into the equation through a partnership agreement by 2007 and as WiMax technology emerged, Clearwire received substantial cash injections that left the company with a 28 percent stake in itself in 2008. 21 percent were owned by Comcast, Intel, Google, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse, which collectively invested $3.2 billion in Clearwire.
Interestingly, Sprint owned 51 percent of Clearwire back then as well. However, at that time, that 51 percent stake was worth substantially more than it is today - about $7.4 billion.