Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

reportedly is weighing a bid for

Sprint

(FON)

after

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

, with which it jointly owns Verizon Wireless, signed off on the move.

An offer from the nation's biggest phone company could pre-empt Sprint's efforts to acquire

Nextel

(NXTL)

, a transaction that was expected to be formalized Wednesday.

Verizon has been considering a bid for Sprint for a year-and-a-half and its board met in recent days to discuss a takeover,

The Wall Street Journal

reported Tuesday. It remains unclear whether an offer is forthcoming, the newspaper reported.

Sprint's board is expected to meet for a second day Tuesday to discuss its plans for Nextel. It was widely reported last week that Sprint was weighing a $35 billion merger with the No. 5 wireless company. Sprint is the third-biggest phone and wireless company in the U.S.

Verizon Wireless is currently the second-biggest wireless operator in the U.S. behind Cingular, a unit of

SBC

(SBC)

and

Bellsouth

(BLS)

. It would become the biggest if it added Sprint.

The

Journal

story also noted that Verizon has urged Vodafone to exit their Verizon Wireless venture in recent days, a departure that the latter tried to carry out over the summer by acquiring AT&T Wireless. The AT&T assets were eventually won by Cingular.