Clearwire Swaps Out CEO

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has hired Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) veteran William Morrow as its new CEO, with current chief Ben Wolff taking on the co-chairman role along with Craig McCaw, the firm said late Monday. (See Clearwire Names Morrow as CEO.)

Morrow steps into the CEO shoes just as the operator plunges into a plan to deliver mobile WiMax to a potential 120 million customers by the end of 2010. (See Clearwire Preps $1.5B Deployment in '09.) "Clearwire is moving into the stage in which it is going to create a national-scale network," Clearwire and Trilogy Partners director, John Stanton, said on a call Monday afternoon. "[Morrow's] primary task initially -- and over the next couple of years -- will be to grow the business to scale."

Wolff, meanwhile, will continue to focus on "financing and strategy" while working with Clearwire's heavy-hitting partners. Clearwire focused on the fact that Wolff has raised "more than $6 billion in equity and debt financing" while building partnerships with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and major U.S. cable companies.

Stanton brushed off a question about the timing of the executive change, which happened just days after a confident-sounding Wolff talked up Clearwire's expansion plans on the firm's fourth-quarter earnings call. Stanton simply said that now is a "good time" for the move.

Instead, Stanton focused on Morrow's extensive telecom experience. Morrow has served as CEO of Vodafone Europe, head of Vodafone UK, and president of Vodafone KK in Japan, prior to his most recent post as president and CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco. Stanton said that there was a lot to be learned from wireless operators outside the U.S. and described Morrow as "a terrific new operating talent." (See Vodafone Shuffles the Deck and Vodafone’s 3G Outing.)

This doesn't mean, however, that Clearwire will be doing anything in particular with its European spectrum holdings. Stanton stressed a couple of times on the call that Morrow is being called on to help Clearwire's expansion in the U.S Over the next two years or so, Clearwire faces the challenge of being the first to deploy a nationwide WiMax network in the States against competition from larger rival Verizon Wireless , which plans to start commercial services using rival Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband technology in 2010. (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

mobileinsider 12/5/2012 | 4:09:49 PM
re: Clearwire Swaps Out CEO Good pick for CEO. New CEOGÇÖs task is simply to add back shareholder value. I would not be surprised if they start the LTE test rumor again (just like Sprint is doing now). CEO's job now is to "Paint the house, fix the plumbing, redo the kitchen and sell at an attractive price" (spectrum assets).

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 4:09:39 PM
re: Clearwire Swaps Out CEO Mobileinsider:
Which is to say, CLWR is purely a spectrum play and WiMax just a red herring? Is this the Beta-Max, VHS argument all over, in that its all about initial adoption and the "best" technology does not tend to win?
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 4:09:36 PM
re: Clearwire Swaps Out CEO Spectrum is their main asset of course. But I doubt their business started or even now is to make a bundle on the spectrum. Given what they have already spent and are planning to spend...well the math is not difficult.

It is about Markets and customer needs. Look there are (4) carriers now with a nationwide footprint and 3G is doing quite well in serving apps (ATT crappy network aside...) and customers have iPhone, Blackberry, G1, and many many other very nice devices to choose from. Apps are growing like weeds. So what is the technology question? Ah...WiMAX uses TDD which is better for data - wee - thanks for the info Intel!

Oops...well under load and common spectrum bandwidth parameters, etc. the datarate realized by the customer is pretty much the same.

So what is Clearwire's market? Compete with Verizon, Sprint, TMobile and ATT delivering mobile voice/data services? Best of luck. I am not buying the stock.

Or providing DSL replacement for Modesto???
Gee I am excited. 1Mbps downlink (assuming you are in a sweet spot and have your modem by the window upstairs) for the same or higher price? State of broadband in US is in a sad state already - where is my fiber - forget the DSL replacement market unless you can deliver >6MBps (and scale higher at a reasonable cost) to a large base of subs and charge a lower price than telco. WiMAX is not the solution for that unless there is a basestation for every 12 households.
mobileinsider 12/5/2012 | 4:09:32 PM
re: Clearwire Swaps Out CEO Hi Materialagirl
WiMax as a fixed play is making progress, some companies are actually making money. "Mobile" WiMAX had its chance and failed to deliver when the window of opportunity was there. With HSDPA and HSPA delivering a great user experience when fully mobile pretty much anywhere, LTE is no longer WiMAX big foe. It's 3G as it stands today and its everywhere.

Mobile WiMAX is not a Red Herring. I've seen it work. The big players were unable to get the systems installed and working in 2006-2007 when they had a chance. Today, it's game over for mobile WiMAX as a global mobile technology. Sorry - harsh reality.

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