CLWR: Where It's at With WiMax

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is planning to move onto Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Grand Rapids, Mich., with mobile WiMax deployments after it launches in Portland, Ore., in the second half of this year, the company said on its first quarter earnings call Monday evening. (See Clearwire's Loss Gets Bigger.)

Clearwire CTO John Saw said the different radio characteristics and topologies of the three cities will help the company understand more about deploying mobile WiMax.

Clearwire is pushing ahead with its own WiMax plans as it prepares to merge with the 4G assets of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). CFO John Butler says Clearwire already has 2,500 cellsites that it is "paying full rent on" that are not yet launched. (See Sprint, Clearwire Create $14.5B WiMax Giant and Clearwire: We'll Kick LTE's Butt.)

The big push will come once the 'new' Clearwire is born and the spectrum and infrastructure assets of the two operators are combined. By the end of 2009, Clearwire says it should be able to cover between 60 to 80 million Americans with its WiMax network.

The company also clarified its capex outlook, an issue that has been a key area of focus in Unstrung and elsewhere since the Sprint deal was announced. Some analysts have suggested the company could spend up to $12 billion deploying a national WiMax network in the U.S. (See Can Clearwire Do It?)

Not so, according to Clearwire.

"We believe the evolution of wireless broadband technology and a pure IP network are driving cost efficiencies for Clearwire," said the company's president Perry Satterlee. He claims the company will only need $2 billion to $2.3 billion extra funding, in addition to the $3.2 billion being pumped in by investors, to complete the network -- far less than a traditional cellular deployment would cost. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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