Clearwire 'Undecided' on Stimulus Bid

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) seems well placed to play a role in the U.S. broadband stimulus program, but the company remains undecided on whether it will bid for any of that funding.

U.S. vice president Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the first $4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loans and grants is now available. Applications for the stimulus money will be accepted from July 14 until August 14. (See Defining Broadband.)

The money is intended to boost the nation's broadband infrastructure -- in particular, bringing faster Internet access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S.

Clearwire, however, may not bid for any of the loans or grants, even though it started by delivering Internet -- and eventually VoIP -- to smaller towns and cities in the U.S. It also has the largest holding of 2.5GHz spectrum of any single carrier in the U.S. and is already rolling out mobile WiMax.

Even so, "Clearwire has made no decision regarding broadband stimulus funding," a company spokesperson tells Unstrung.

"We remain focused on completing our national rollout of 80 markets over the next 18 months, and our existing build plan isn't predicated on our ability to secure this funding. We will review the recently released guidelines and make a decision at the appropriate time."

Of course, a bid for the stimulus money may mean that the company would have to look to more "underserved communities" in its buildout plan. In 2009, it has already launched three mobile WiMax markets, with official commercial sites in Atlanta and Portland, and a "soft launch" in Las Vegas. Hardly cities that are begging for broadband access. (See Clearwire Gearing Up for Dallas & Seattle?.)

In fact, in 2009, Clearwire's plans mostly see it deploying in mid-sized cities. In 2010, it moves onto bigger fish such as the Bay Area and New York.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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