mbablitz, I think Ergen, DISH didn't outsmart SB-S and has not offered anything much
AT&T could top The Dish bid not because they want Clearwire but in order to make Son who is very leveraged sweat and eventually run out of the ability to borrow more. That scuttles both takeover attempts and leaves Sprint out of the big league. China Mobile could make a bid just to keep a Japanese company in the rapidly expanding mobile communications industry just as a tit for tat in their dispute with Japan. Remember China buys US debt. They could make threats and win a bid. To look good among the American public the FCC in that scenario could compel a sale of some excess spectrum by Clearwire. The more entrants in the bidding war the more complex it gets and the more it gets dragged out with FCC and congressional hearings. Meanwhile Sprint is held up in it's attempted catch up game with the two telecom giants. Clearwire shareholders win. They get a higher price. Ergen and Dish win because they will get the spectrum they want. Son pulls out and the $20 billion along with it. Sprint stock drops and Hesse goes running to Dish for a partnership that is if Hesse has not by then gotten booted out. The whole SoftBank Sprint Clearwire for peanuts deal bites the dust. Son and Hesse just are not as smart as they think they are.
The AT&T idea is very interesting in that Verizon made some deals with the cable companies that netted spectrum and content, DISH and DTV could now make a similar deal with AT&T plus do as you suggest and scuttle the SB invasion by backing a DISH buy of Clearwire if need be.
All the speculation points to the vulnerability Sprint has sans Clearwire spectrum with a wildcard still being Clears BoD decision making process. Interesting too consider!
Softbank's offers are all about the spectrum Ckearwire has. TDLTE has huge potential as well it is used by China Mobile and Softbank. AT&T could surely aid in stopping this farce of basically stealing candy from a baby attitude that Son and Hesse have. Crest and others will battle fiercely with this farce of an offer from Sprint and all the Sprint bs.