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Sprint Center Of Attention For Nextel And Verizon Wireless

Sprint Corp.'s enterprise operation, including its nationwide fiber-optic network, suddenly is looking like a swan and not a lame duck, as Verizon Wireless assesses the possibility of making a bid for Sprint in the boiling cell-phone merger scene.

Verizon Wireless, a combination of Verizon Communications and Britain's Vodafone Group, is said to be considering making a bid for Sprint. Such a bid--if actually undertaken--would likely upset Sprint's merger with Nextel Communications. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Vodafone will back Verizon Wireless if it decides to go after Sprint.

"It makes some sense for Verizon Wireless to go after Sprint," said Pete Wilson, president and CEO of telephony consultancy Telwares Communications. "First, it would make Verizon the clear leader in wireless. And, second, it would give Verizon a big boost in the enterprise market."

While stock markets and the entire cellular industry have been roiling for days with news of a pending merger between Sprint and Nextel--with Sprint to emerge as the dominant partner--all parties have remained silent publicly, leaving investment bankers and company executives to leak the merger activities to the media. Sprint and Nextel are preparing to announce their merger tomorrow, according to the latest leaks.

"It must be a good time to be Sprint," said Wilson, a former Sprint executive himself. "Sprint is strong in enterprise wire line. It's a real powerhouse in the enterprise market."

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