This Week in WiMax

3:20 PM -- This week in WiMax, here are the big issues, as I see them:

Net neutrality, WiMax's new best friend
It probably was not a coincidence that Clearwire came out strongly in support of new FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's net neutrality proposals at about the same time it was discovered the company was applying for about $40 million in stimulus funds from the government. Never hurts to back the ideals of those with big wallets, even if it means taking a bit of an about-face on the company's previous net neutrality position. The fact is, net neutrality is good business for Clearwire right now, so it makes sense for the company to strongly support the issue for more reasons than just the stimulus cash.

It's worth remembering that at one point several years ago Clearwire was looking like it might be the next Madison River, alledgedly blocking that pesky Vonage from eating into its all-important voice ARPU. (I know, because I wrote those stories then, including one where current Clearwire executive vice president Gerry Salemme claimed he hadn't even read his own company's terms of service.) But that was then, and this is now -- and now sees a Salemme who spent the earlier part of the year working side by side with the Obama administration telecom transition team, in a position of influence. Now sees a much different Clearwire, with a much more capable network, one with tons of bandwidth and very few customers, making network-overloading concerns a moot point.

Eventually, Clearwire may earn its share of bandwidth-gobbling users, and have to implement some sort of network management to ensure that all paying customers get the experience they desire. But the guess here is that it will take some time before Clearwire runs into any type of iPhone-clogging phenomenons. Until then, expect Clearwire to trumpet the FCC's net neutrality wishes, as an easy way to make hay in comparison to the big telcos. Championing net neutrality puts Clearwire on the side of a good number of Internet influencers, and paints the company as user-friendly in stark contrast to the big telcos -- who wasted no time in getting their GOP water-carriers busy after Genachowski's opening salvo, trying to keep the FCC's hands tied via dubious lawmaking tricks, a tactic quickly abandoned.

The cynics among us might link Clearwire's new fondness for net neutrality with its desire to influence the government agencies approving the company's grant requests. But why tarnish such a happy coincidence? For both Clearwire and net neutrality proponents, it's an alliance that makes sense and can benefit both parties. In D.C., you can't ask for a better new friend than that.

Need to know more about Clearwire and WiMax? My Clearwire NTK report costs less than a large beer at the local Sprint Nascar race. Just $4.95 at the Sidecut store. Also available for the Kindle. Available now for free download is our "WiMax Business Deployment Guide."

— Paul Kapustka is the founder and editor of Sidecut Reports, a WiMax analysis site and research service. He can be reached at [email protected]. Special to Unstrung.

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