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Summary:

Craig McCaw, the wireless zen master, and market non-pareil has made his “check mate move.” His company Clearwire has raised $260 million in debt in order to expand company’s fixed wireless network. (Take that Vonage!) As a background, McCaw was the founder of McCaw Cellular, one […]

Craig McCaw, the wireless zen master, and market non-pareil has made his “check mate move.” His company Clearwire has raised $260 million in debt in order to expand company’s fixed wireless network. (Take that Vonage!) As a background, McCaw was the founder of McCaw Cellular, one of the early start-ups that grew to become a national network, and was eventually bought by AT&T to become the corner stone of AT&T Wireless. (AT&T Wireless is now part of Cingular, and if you follow that chain, you can see his midas touch.)

Then came Nextel, another blockbuster. He made some ill-fated wireline investments, but why tarnish his image with one blip. (That was XO Communications, in case you were wondering!) Anyway back to Kirkland, Washington-based Clearwire – which has raised money from 31 investors – has the option to raise another $260 million from the same investors. The company has till date raised $360 million from giants like Intel Corp. and Bell Canada.

Why are these investors risking such huge amounts of money on this company, which currently offers service in 16 markets and has fewer customers than SBC signs-up in a week? Simple – most investors know that this is last chance to get into the consumer last mile action. Cable & DSL are a duoply that is pretty hard to beat. Clearwire owns spectrum so it can actually offer service along with quality. The other wireless operators are going to be fighting in the unlicensed spectrum, the municipalities are going to be mired in political battles for a long long time. Clearwire is as good an option as you can find right now. And the company will build a nationwide network using the new cash, and well, could become a decent enough competitor to the incumbents.

(Here is the SEC filing, though it is not available for public consumption.)

By Om Malik

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  1. Nextlink became XO. It wasn’t a failure. A financier wrested control of XO from McCaw and Forstman Little. His goal at the time was to build a fixed landline business – a CLEC servicing the smaller business customer base. I gve him major props since wireless has now become the “future.” He was there before everyone figured it out. Also, Nextel’s spectrum relies on cheaper non PCS spectrum and used Motorola’s iDEN technology.
    Brash and a risk taker.

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  2. Nextlink/XO was a failure, period. That doesn’t discredit McCaw’s career, but it is a fact. Icahn took over the company in bankruptcy, hardly “wresting” it away from Forstmann, et al.

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  3. [...] , that I worry if we are going to stay stuck in the trial stage. That’s why Clearwire seems to be a much smarter way to go. In Unwired Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 [...]

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  4. Without wanting to tarnish his image, there is more than a single blip, and some of them have been in the wireless space (how quickly Teledesic fades from memory, I guess). Everybody who swings for the fences is also gonna’ strike out a lot.

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  5. Wireless Broadband Coming to Canada…finally!

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  6. Dear Sir,
    greetings.
    please,pass my urgent humble request to Mr.Craig McCAW very soon.As Christ was advancing and the lady was trying to reach HIM to be free from her 12 years old illness and bondage.
    I am protestant,40years woman with 2 little children,husband is pastor .I am in high debts for $50000 due to my ex-husband and i could not pay debts .I CANNOY PAY DEBTS ,I had to quit my job too due to threats caused by money-lenders.
    Banks and money-lenders are taking cases to courtand i am in serious trouble.
    I have no assistance ,i need your personal support for me.I know like your left over can be sufficient food for somebody who is in great trouble.
    Please,Mr.Craig take it for personal help so that i may be saved.I will always be obelized to a kind angel.Please,do not deny make immediate help to me.I am very eager to be delivered by God-given ways.

    May be all blessed in your family,
    Sincerely,
    Mrs.Abha Lal,
    The Grace Church,
    44,a.b. road,Dewas,
    M.P. India

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