Clearwire Expands in Europe
Earlier this week Unstrung revealed details of the U.S. startup’s low-profile European launch in Belgium, following a bevy of regional launches in its home territory (see Clearwire Goes European).
Further investigation reveals that the company, led by wireless pioneer Craig McCaw, has now set up base on the Emerald Isle -- a country better known for its tasty beer and weird, sexless dancing styles. Imaginatively dubbed Clearwire Ireland, the subsidiary is headquartered in Dublin.
The service is currently being trialed in Dublin, with a commercial launch pegged for "most of south Dublin" sometime this Fall. A spokeswoman says that early deployments will cover approximately 50 percent of Ireland, "but in the future we hope to have national coverage."
Tariffs for residential users are pegged at €37.50 (US$46.52) a month, which includes a “nominal” downlink speed of 512 kbit/s and uplink of 128 kbit/s. Business services are offered at €45.56 ($56.55) a month, for which “nominal” downlink speeds of 1 Mbit/s and an uplink of 256 kbit/s are claimed.
Clearwire’s offering is the result of its acquisition of fixed-wireless player Net2Cell in October 2004 for an undisclosed amount. Net2Cell held a number of licenses for wireless broadband services throughout Ireland in the 3.5GHz spectrum band.
Denmark is also on Clearwire’s radar for future network launches. In May 2004 a company called Flux Europe S.a.r.l won an auction to deploy fixed-wireless services in greater Copenhagen, at a cost of 1.6 million Danish kroner ($267,205). According to a report from the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency, in November 2004 Flux asked the agency “to approve a transfer of the company’s regional FWA licence to a new wholly owned Danish subsidiary called Clearwire Denmark ApS.” The request for transfer was approved on November 17, 2004.
Furthermore, Clearwire last month invested a reported 100 million Danish kroner ($16.7 million) in local fixed-wireless operator Danske Telecom A/S. The deal is aimed at deploying broadband wireless services in the 3.5GHz spectrum band.
“It’s a strategic partnership aimed at launching services in the key cities of Denmark,” says a spokesman for Danske Telecom. “Clearwire’s route to the market is based around the large cities.” The spokesman declined to comment on potential launch dates.
Elsewhere, scuttlebutt suggests Clearwire is keen to deploy services in Bulgaria, Germany and Italy, although Unstrung is unable to verify these claims.
"They certainly seem keen on building a pan-European presence," says Caroline Gabriel, research director at Rethink Research Associates.
Clearwire had not responded to various requests for information on its European plans by press time.
As previously reported, Clearwire’s efforts in Europe make it something of a pioneer. The operator is offering WiMax-style broadband wireless international services, using equipment from NextNet Wireless Inc., before official product is even released. Despite all the big-name operators that have been expressing an interest in -- and even testing -- broadband wireless networks, there has been very little said by the big boys about developing a global footprint for WiMax yet.
For more on who's deploying what and where, see Unstrung's latest report: Who Makes What: WiMax Equipment & Services.
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung