November 4th

6:00 PM -- November 4th isn't just going to be the date that the U.S. chooses its next president, it will also be the date that might help to set the future scope of wireless in the U.S.

Both the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) WiMax asset merger and Verizon Wireless 's Alltel acquisition are going to be on the table at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's November 4 meeting -- although no one I've spoken to recently seems to think that the FCC will block the Clearwire merger, despite AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s spectrum objections, and the Alltel deal is still on track, at least according to Verizon. (See Clearwire's Closing Approaches and AT&T Looks to Block Sprint/Clearwire Merger.)

FCC approval is, in fact, one of the final hurdles facing the Clearwire deal. After that the Kirkland, Wash.-based carrier will be onto a shareholder vote and a possible December close for the deal.

Getting the network going, however, has much bigger implications for how wireless evolves towards 4G. Not because of any supposed battle between WiMax and LTE or any other technology though -- put that nonsense out of your mind for the time being. (Since when did consumers care about what actual technology they were using?)

No, assuming that Clearwire can finance its buildout, the network will be a helpful petri dish for all carriers looking to understand how the future might look for 4G. It might provide some initial answers to what services people will pay for, and how they react to lower subsidies on devices and -- at least at first -- faster data services being largely decoupled from voice in the mobile sphere. (See Slideshow: WiMax Makes Waves.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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