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Sprint roots against itself

The company is making a $300 million bet against itself, announcing plans that it believes will help with some recent credit problems.

Sprint is making a $300 million bet against itself.

The company announced plans Friday that it believes will help with some recent credit problems. The plans include a $1 billion loan and the possible sale of Sprint's Yellow Pages publishing division.

Among the other money Sprint is counting on this year is the $300 million it paid the Federal Communications Commission in rights to wireless spectrum. But the cash--and the airwaves--has been tied up in litigation ever since.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on Monday that would effectively end the court case. If Sprint loses, it would finally get the money returned, said Sprint spokesman Mark Bonavia.

But what if it wins? Bonavia wouldn't comment.

Verizon Wireless is also part of the litigation and will see a significantly higher amount of money in legal limbo suddenly cut loose depending on how the court rules. Spokesman Jim Gerace said the carrier has already filed a lawsuit to get the money back anyway, separate from the upcoming court actions.

The court battle is between the FCC and NextWave Communications, a New York-based company that bought licenses to expensive airwave spectrum in 1996 for about $4.7 billion. It paid $500 million before entering bankruptcy protection in 1998.

The FCC tried to re-auction the licenses last year after the company failed to pay for them on time, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last June that repossessing the licenses was a violation of bankruptcy law.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling Monday on whether or not it will hear the case. If it decides not to, NextWave would be able to keep its licenses to the airwave spectrum.