CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More

SAN FRANCISCO -- CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment -- Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) CEO Ben Wolff confirmed widespread speculation that the operator will eventually use Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android open-source phone platform on its mobile WiMax network.

The device chatter was just part of a wide-ranging conversation Wolff had with Unstrung on Thursday about Clearwire, WiMax, and more.

"We're clearly going to do stuff with the Android platform," Wolff said.

But -- when? "I can't answer that. Not because I don't want to, but because I can't."

He explained that potential Android devices for the WiMax network are still on the drawing board. "They say the middle of next year," he said. "I'll believe it when I see it."

Nonetheless, Wolff is excited by the prospect of Android handsets in general. "Have you seen the Android phone [The HTC Dream]? I saw it last night [Wednesday]. It's really cool." [Ed note: Your correspondent hadn't, actually, despite haunting the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) booth at some after-show event Wednesday.] (See Android Arriving November 10?)

Clearwire is already doing some integration work with the search giant, as shown by the click-through calling it incorporated with Google maps on its San Francisco driving demo. "Google is an important applications partner for us," Wolff said. (See CTIA: Steady Rollin' Clearwire .)

Closing the 'new' deal
Wolff reaffirms that Clearwire expects the merger of its WiMax assets with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s XOHM deployment to be approved by year's end. While Sprint is pushing ahead with its deployments in Baltimore and other sites, Wolff said Clearwire is waiting for the deal to close before it starts to push deployments in Portland, Ore., and beyond. (See Clearwire: We're Still on Track and Sprint Preps Four New WiMax Markets.)

"That's really triggered by the deal closing," he elucidated. "On our side it makes the most sense to wait, for a whole variety of reasons."

Not least among those is the $3.2 billion in funding from Google, Intel Capital , and the cable companies. But Clearwire said in quarterly earnings recently that it could potentially look for other funding. "The capital markets are not in a good place right now, though," Wolff said, adding that the company would only take on additional financing if it gets decent terms. (See Clearwire Has Cash for 'at Least' 12 Months .)

Behind the scenes
The wait for the deal to close, however, is not stopping Clearwire from working on infrastructure, devices, and applications for the mobile WiMax network. Wolff said the company now has 2,500 cell sites around the country.

Wolff is expecting to launch with the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) 810 WiMax tablet, a WiMax card, and a residential modem -- with more mobile devices, "in the double digits," coming down the fat pipe.

The first real application Clearwire will offer -- other than the mobile internet of course -- is residential VOIP. "We'll do it right away from a residential perspective," Wolff explained. "I don't think you'll see us offer mobile VOIP before 2010, largely driven by the footprint we have."

Wolff mentioned a hypothetical $40 a month price during the course of our conversation, so Unstrung popped the pricing question.

"We'll probably do a little bit of trial and error for a while. Where we start might not be where we end up." Wolff mused.

Sprint Nextel has mentioned a price of $50 a month, as well as pay-as-you-go plans and day passes.

WiMax vs. WiFi
"WiFi is clearly limited in its deployment," Wolff opined. "On WiMax, if I can provide you with a great connection in your hotel room, in the airport – in fact, everywhere – for, let's say, $40 a month, why do you need WiFi?

Nonetheless, as Clearwire builds out, Wolff said the carrier and its partners are looking at dual- and triple-mode devices with CDMA and potentially WiFi on board. "Sprint and cable guys are particularly interested... It's already [available] in South Korea, " he notes (See Sprint Plots Dual-Mode CDMA-WiMax.)

Euro assets
Clearwire holds more European 2.5 GHz spectrum assets than many realize, and some could be on the block -- among other options -- as Clearwire zeroes in on its U.S. network deployment. "We've said that we're looking at our strategic options," Wolff said.

He added that the carrier's investors are keen for Clearwire to find opportunities to exploit. (See Clearwire in Euro Partner Talks.) On success (or otherwise)
"Success will be getting these initial markets up and running and getting customer demand and succeeding in having customers tell us they can't live without it," Wolff said. "It might sound idealistic, but that's when I'll know we've succeeded."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:32:17 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More Is it just me or does some of this really suggest that WiMax will a heavily data-focused business til at least 2010?

lrmobile_kumaramitabh 12/5/2012 | 3:31:49 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More What is intriguing is the way many of the companies keep talking of Android as something to look forward in the future, when we will be having the launch of the first 3G Android phone in a month or so.

Barry West was very forthright when he mentioned at the CTIA that 3G iPhone is very restrained on a 3G network for the types of applications it supports. This is very true as it is a closed environment and developers can not write programs which optimize the resources in networks such as 3G.

Barry, by implication rightly emphasised that the Wimax networks will perform much better and that the use of devices such as those based on Android will be critical. An open platform enables a host of applications, which alone can make use of a unfathomed medium such as Mobile WiMAX.

If Android can be the " present" for the phone companies, so should it be for Mobile WiMAX.

180con 12/5/2012 | 3:31:49 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More Why is Meru hiding the fact that Tushar, their VP of WW Sales left the company 4 weeks ago??

Fun he is still on the website!!!!
lrmobile_kumaramitabh 12/5/2012 | 3:31:31 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More The Mobile WiMAX network of Sprint, XOHM, is now officially being launched on the 8th of October 2008 at Baltimore. The announcement of the official launch comes after many delays and postponed launches for the network for a variety of reasons. The wait is finally over, with the network already GǣrunningGǥ and providing performance as expected.

While there are many Mobile WiMAX networks in operation around the globe, the one from Sprint has always held a special place owing to the scale of the launch, the quantum of spectrum held by the Sprint, Clearwire combine and the new devices from Intel, Samsung and Nokia which are moving in tandem with the proposed launch. It is the new devices and their performance which will distinguish the new wireless medium from the broadband provided by Mobile Networks and expectations are high that once Mobile WiMAX delivered wireless connectivity is available, the existing networks will start looking more and more as relics from the past.

The industry expects the Mobile WiMAX networks to prove themselves in an environment as the Mobile industry moves onto new products with HSDPA and EV-DO connectivity.

The partnership of Google, Intel and Cable companies such as Comcast point to a whole new world of devices, applications and delivery models for mobile media.
WiFi_Need_It 12/5/2012 | 3:31:24 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More Steve Troyer was fired........what is going on with Meru.........I am a Meru partner and I am getting nervous!!!
WiFi_Need_It 12/5/2012 | 3:31:24 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More There is something going on there for sure......the VP of Channels/Product Marketing was fired.......Steve Troyer........what is happening at Meru?????
notaclue 12/5/2012 | 3:31:23 PM
re: CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More Don't worry about Meru they are doing fine. I see them winning deals against Cisco and Aruba on a daily basis.
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