Clearwire Kills Rover, Connects With TeleTech

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is killing its "Rover" brand in July and handing customer care operations to TeleTech, it said Wednesday.

The Rover devices and service were aimed at a younger audience and offered unlimited usage with rate plans for daily, weekly or monthly access without a contract. Users were offered a device choice of a WiMax USB stick or a 4G-enabled personal hot spot to get online.

The brand has been in existence for a little over a year. Clearwire sent out notices to customers today "to let you know that as of July 1, 2011, we no longer will sell Rover rate plans and services." (See Clearwire Pushes Pay-as-You-Go With Rover.) "The brand and the rate plans are going away. The device isn't going away; we're just going in a different direction," says a Clearwire spokesman.

"Existing Rover customers can be served under the Clear brand," he adds. "If they want to go month to month, they can do that."

Clear monthly plans start at $45. Daily access rates are $10, double what was initially offered on the Rover service.

Separately, the firm says that it will now use TeleTech for day-to-day customer care services for customers. Around 700 employees in Las Vegas and Milton, Fla., will immediately transition to TeleTech, while Clearwire will retain approximately 180 personnel between both locations for back-office operations.

The deal is similar to the seven-year managed service agreement that Clearwire struck with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) in May. That agreement saw 700 Clearwire network management staff transfer to Ericsson.

Why this matters
The lonesome death of the Rover brand is likely to further please Clearwire majority owner, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), as its WiMax partner has now killed the only independent service it offers, other than the Clear brand, which it has already stopped pushing heavily in retail. It should be noted that Sprint also uses Ericsson for network management and TeleTech for customer care.

Any indication of closer ties between Sprint and Clearwire, meanwhile, will likely further anger the activist shareholders at Pardus Capital Management L.P., which has recently called for Clearwire to sell spectrum so that it can get the upper hand in its relationship with Sprint.

See more
Read more on Clearwire's recent past below:

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:03:31 PM
re: Clearwire Kills Rover, Connects With TeleTech

Doesn't this all kind of point in that direction?

TelecomEngineer 12/5/2012 | 5:03:26 PM
re: Clearwire Kills Rover, Connects With TeleTech

Sprint is a sinking ship that most definitely doesn't need another boat anchor.  Don't forget when a bunch of Sprint execs gave up much of their rights on the Clear board it was because Sprint was very concerned it was so closely tied to Clear that when it went down in flames dragging the $'s of very important industry giants with it, these same industry giants would then come after Sprint to cover the losses.

Ask yourself, how good could a network be for Company X with 5000 sites across the entire US, and Company Z with zero sites on air, competing with Company Y, the market leader, that has 50,000+ sites .  Oh, and don't forget because Company X and Company Z bought the "cheap" high frequency spectrum, it takes 1.6x to 2x the number of sites just to equal Company Y's coverage.  Can company X build 100,000 sites and win over customers from Company Y?  No way.

If Clear was building 3500 sites per month and slamming each site full of T1's or IP backhaul, I'd have a completely different view.

Directly the opposite is happening. 

Alot of folks don't know that Barry West mandated in 2006/7 all WiMax sites must launch with 8 T1's, and one of the idiot directors rushed out and placed the orders for x thousand sites(he's still at Sprint).  Since this little move chewed up almost 100% of Sprint entire operating budget for the year, Sprint execs had to play alot of golf with alot of LEC's, phone companies, LD providers to get each one to let them out of their fully executed orders this idiot placed, but still had to ride out some of those committed orders,

Clear has been looking at every single site and where they believe they can get away with it, they are disconnecting T1's by the hundreds in hopes to save enough opex to stay afloat a few months more.  4G sites, unless you are lucky enough to have it roam to the Sprint 3G network, are then T1 blocking in as great a % as Clear thinks it can get away with.

lilgatsby 12/5/2012 | 5:03:23 PM
re: Clearwire Kills Rover, Connects With TeleTech

A few points of clarification.

1- Clearwire's board restructure didn't alleviate Sprint's ownership position or financial risk.

2- A 5000 site assumption is off by about 15000 sites.  Not to say the network is as large as VZ or T, but it is not as insignificant in size as referenced.  Also of importance is the tower-build cost model as it is a fraction of traiditional carrier tower costs, if they need to build more towers to extend the reach it isn't on the same financial scale as the competition.

3- Clearwire doesn't build with T1s.  They build with 800MB-1GB microwave links between towers in an all IP network.  They have a very efficient architecture that is truly capable of supporting a 4G access network.  T1s in the Clearwire network are legacy XOHM and are a small fraction.

4- The spectrum debate is interesting.  It is true their bands do not travel as far or have the same building penetration characteristics as lower bands of VZ/T.  However, their bands are capable of carrying higher bandwidth than the VZ/T bands, much higher.  Clearwire also has the spectrum depth to stack and pair at each tower, where VZ/T are limited in spectrum and either have short-changed towers or tower split (a tower split removes the argument that Clearwire has to build more towers than the competition).  The data today supports that their WiMAX network is very close to VZ's LTE from a bandwidth perspective - what is not mentioned often is that Clearwire's LTE network (single market test) achieves in the 90MB down/30MB up range.  This is around 5-7x anything else and with around 150Mhz in each market, the possibilties are very flexible and promising for LTE.

The purpose of this response is not to refute that there are financial hurdles to be crossed, but to clarify that the network and capabilities both present and future are valuable and very uniquely positioned to support true 4G speeds.



joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:55:43 PM
re: Clearwire Kills Rover, Connects With TeleTech

RE: "what is not mentioned often is that Clearwire's LTE network (single market test) achieves in the 90MB down/30MB up range.  This is around 5-7x anything else and with around 150Mhz in each market, the possibilties are very flexible and promising for LTE."


That's a test network though. Remember Verizon was getting over 60-Mbit/s on its LTE tests, what does that translate to in the real world?

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