Clearwire Buys Up Oneida Spectrum

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has bought up 2.5-GHz spectrum assets from Oneida Communications Group in several areas of the U.S., but isn't saying how much it paid for the radio resources.

Clearwire says that the licenses it has bought include areas in Lynchburg, Va.; Parkersburg, W.Va.; Salisbury, Md.; and Santa Barbara Calif. It hasn't said, however, how many potential users that covers.

Clearwire uses 2.5-GHz spectrum for both its deployed fixed wireless service and mobile WiMax service. Since closing its WiMax asset deal with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), the Kirkland, Wash.-based operator has access to over 90 MHz of 2.5-GHz spectrum in the U.S. (See A Clearwire Timeline .)

The carrier has consistently grabbed more 2.5-GHz spectrum when it can. In February 2007, Clearwire bought a tranche of the radio licenses from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). In June 2005, the company cut a similar deal with CT Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CTCI). (See Clearwire Buys Spectrum.)

Oneida Broadband LLC was initially formed to acquire radio spectrum licenses in the 2.5-GHz band and planned to build and operate broadband wireless access networks, rather like Clearwire. In total, Oneida acquired licenses that covered 110 million MHz PoPs in the U.S.

The firm's investors -- Catalyst Investors and Northwood Ventures -- had already sold the major portion of the operation's 2.5-GHz licenses to Sprint in March 2008. Clearwire would have gotten these licenses as part of the creation of the "new" Clearwire; now it has the rest.

Neither Clearwire nor the investors are saying how much the remainder of Oneida cost. Catalyst, however, has invested at least $10 million in Oneida since March 2006, and the investor is claiming a two-times return on investment for its limited partners.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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