Mobile network operator Verizon is offering Clearwire up to $1.5 billion in order to lease parts of its spectrum, according to anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal.

The move is timely because it follows a $25.5 billion bid by Dish to acquire Sprint, another US operator which acquired a 50.8 percent stake in Clearwire last October – and announced a deal, worth $2.2 billion, to buy the remaining shares in January.

The move by Verizon marks a shift by all US carriers to improve the size and quality of their network. T-Mobile USA announced it would be merging with MetroPCS last October, providing “deeper” LTE network support and a combined subscriber base of 42.5 million.

The outcome of that deal is far from complete and will follow plans, announced late last month, to launch a new LTE network in seven cities across the United States.

Along with its new “uncarrier” plans, T-Mobile USA is making a great deal of noise that other carriers would be wise to take note of. Verizon is the largest mobile network operator in the United States, providing its various wireless services to 115.78 million subscribers. AT&T sits in second, with Sprint and T-Mobile USA still scrapping for third place; that state of affairs could soon change, however.

Verizon will be hoping to re-emphasize its market position provided Clearwire accepts its proposals. The company would no doubt prefer to acquire these spectrum bands, but given Sprint’s significant influence and ties to Clearwire –  that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images