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TowerStream's Biggest Test Yet

Dan Jones
5/30/2007

5:30 PM -- Hi there broadbanders,

If there's one company that has carved itself out a stake in the enterprise WiMax market it is Towerstream Corp. (Nasdaq: TWER) The Middletown, R.I.-based operator offers T1-class wireless connectivity for business users in major markets such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Miami, and Providence and Newport, Rhode Island.

The seven-year-old company started trading on the Nasdaq Over-The-Counter (OTC) Bulletin Board in January. This, as predicted, proved to be a stepping stone to the bigger Nasdaq Capital Market. TowerStream will start trading on Thursday and plans to offer up to $40 million in common stock. It will trade under the ticker symbol "TWER." (See TowerStream's Seattle Speakeasy.)

It will be interesting to see how TowerStream fares compared to WiMax contender Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s recent IPO, which looked promising to start with but deflated very quickly. (See Clearwire's Bubble Bursts.)

The two companies don't have a huge amount in common except that both have recently reported losses and expect that trend to continue. In its latest Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, TowerStream says it made a net loss of $1.64 million for the three months ended March 31, 2007, compared to net income of $15,124 in the same period last year. Revenues were up 4.3 percent to $1.58 million over the year.

TowerStream blamed the loss on non-recurring costs related to recent equity and debt financing and recurring costs associated with going public and expanding its markets. "We believe that net losses will continue as we make required additions to our sales, engineering and administrative personnel and network in order to increase revenues and subscriber growth," it says in the SEC papers.

The difference being that TowerStream is unlikely – and most probably unable – to spend the billions that Clearwire is planning to splash on its network expansion. This means the losses could stop at some point, although TowerStream isn't making any predictions on when yet.

As the company says, it is moving into uncharted territory for wireless broadband.

Anyhow, here's the best of the rest in this week's news:

Contract high
There's the usual raft of WiMax and WiFi mesh contracts and trials to run down this week. (See Enforta Extends Russian Footprint, Moto Builds WiMax in Germany, AlcaLu Scores WiMax Wins, and Firetide, Aptilo Partner.)

Sheep we're up against
Oh no! WiMax showdown in New Zealand.

xMax the spot
You'll be deeply shocked to find there's yet another emerging broadband technology that Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) isn't wild about.

ClearMesh clocks out
Combining free-space optics with mesh technology doesn't seem to have panned out too well. (See ClearMesh Clears Out.)

Laters,

— The Staff, Unstrung

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