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Clearwire: We're Not Like the Cellcos

Clearwire says it's not like the cellular companies you know and love, as it posts another loss for Q1

Dan Jones

May 13, 2009

2 Min Read
Clearwire: We're Not Like the Cellcos

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) used the captive audience on its first-quarter earnings call to hammer home what appears to be its new mantra for the year -- that it isn't like the existing carriers that many want to paint as its rivals.

"We are not aiming to unseat the incumbent [cellular] carriers... Our value proposition is a super-fast mobile Internet service at a great price," hyped new Clearwire CEO William Morrow on the call. (See Clearwire Swaps Out CEO.)

Morrow's comments echo those made by the company's chief strategy officer, Scott Richardson, earlier in the day as he talked about the firm's new Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) partnership. (See Clearwire Considering WiMax Polygamy .)

"In reality, we're not a cellular company... We're really a broadband service provider that happens to deliver service wirelessly," Richardson said.

Clearwire has a point in that it doesn't have a legacy network to deal with like the existing cellcos. The messaging from Verizon Wireless and Clearwire on mobile broadband in general has been strikingly similar, with both focusing on super-fast data pipes and bringing new and different devices onto these fresh networks. (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.)

Clearwire certainly isn't anything like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon in terms of revenues, either. The Kirkland, Wash.-based operator posted revenue growth for its first quarter on a loss for the three months at the end of March. (See Clearwire Ups Subs in Q1.)

The company reported a loss of $71.06 million, or $0.38 per share, from a pro-forma loss of $76.44 million, or $0.41 per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues rose 21 percent to $62.1 million. The figures from a year ago represent the numbers from the "old" Clearwire venture, before the merger of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Xohm WiMax assets with the "new" Clearwire.

The company's subscriber base grew from 443,000 a year ago to 550,000 at the end of the first quarter. Clearwire saw a 7 percent growth in average revenue per user, annually, to $39.52.

The firm now says that its Atlanta market will launched by June. While online sales have started now, Las Vegas will follow in "late summer," according to the new CEO. Clearwire is sticking to its earlier prediction that it will spend between $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion in capex costs deploying WiMax in 2009.

Clearwire is also making some changes at the top. G. Michael Sievert will join as chief commercial officer, Kevin Hart will join as chief information officer, and Laurent Bentitou signs on as chief people officer [ed. note: whatever the heck that is].

Clearwire president Barry West, meanwhile, has been named president – international, and will continue to report to Morrow. Perry Satterlee is stepping down as chief operating officer to "pursue other opportunities," according to Morrow. Overall, the company is expecting to expand its workforce by over 50 percent in 2009.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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