Clearwire Preps NY & SF Markets

Mobile WiMax player Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) needs to quadruple its coverage footprint in 2010 in order to meet its target of 120 POPs (points of presence) covered by the end of year.

The company ended last year with around 30 million potential customers covered. This year, CTO John Saw tells Unstrung that the company will go after massive new markets like New York and the Bay Area in an "aggressive" push to reach these big numbers.

"We had started working on New York a while ago," Saw notes. In fact, the Kirkland, Wash.-based operator had posted job ads looking for RF Engineers in the New York and New Jersey area back in January 2009. (See 'New' Clearwire Hires for 'New' York.)

While saying that "every market has its own [deployment] issues," Saw admits that cities like New York and San Francisco present some unique challenges. "It is a whole new design architecture we have to do in Midtown Manhattan, for instance. It's a concrete jungle."

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Clearwire is looking at "zoning challenges," Saw says. "We're talking to the Coastal Commission."

The Californian Coastal Commission, as it turns out, has a lot of influence over development projects that involve shoreline areas:
    The Coastal Commission, in partnership with coastal cities and counties, plans and regulates the use of land and water in the coastal zone. Development activities, which are broadly defined by the Coastal Act to include (among others) construction of buildings, divisions of land, and activities that change the intensity of use of land or public access to coastal waters, generally require a coastal permit from either the Coastal Commission or the local government.
Clearwire will be looking to lease land and buildings to situate radios for its Wimax service in California and beyond. In fact, the cycle may be starting again as Clearwire is currently advertising for RF engineers in St Louis.

Saw says the new funding the operator recently brought in has helped to answer questions about whether it can now reach its 120 million covered target this year. "We just raised another $2.8 billion and I'm going to spend all of it," he chuckles.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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