Clearwire said today that it has closed several transactions that will allow it to build out a nationwide WiMAX network, including gaining control of Sprint’s Xohm network and a $3.2 billion investment from several large companies. These deals were announced in May, and despite the downturn that has pummeled stocks since then, the terms of the deal have not changed. The new nationwide WiMAX service will be branded Clear.
Clearwire received the $3.2 billion investment from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks. The cable providers will also resell the WiMAX service, even hinting that they will integrate wireless into some of their other broadband and entertainment offerings, much like AT&T and Nokia each hope to do. Sprint will also resell access to its current 3G network to the newly created Clear, paving the way for dual-mode 3G and 4G devices that will ensure that WiMAX devices work even where there’s no WiMAX network. This will be important in signing up mobile users. Below are other important bits from the call:
- Baltimore, Md., and Portland, Ore., will be the first cities to go online, with no mention of Chicago and Dallas which were to go live under Sprint’s Xohm brand soon.
- Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff says most of the $3.2 billion investment will go toward building out the nationwide network. Many of the pre-WiMAX markets that currently have Clearwire service will get Clear service in 2009.
- Wolff also said that Clearwire is building the Clear network with equipment that can also be used for LTE deployments, meaning if LTE becomes necessary, Clearwire can upgrade its network more easily.
- Barry West, the former CTO of Sprint Nextel and head of the Xohm efforts, will become president and chief architect of Clearwire.
- Atish Gude, formerly senior vice president of Sprint’s XOHM mobile broadband operations, is now senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Clearwire.
- First products on the market are embedded WiMax chips in laptops and USB modems, but by mid-2009 consumers will see more mobile Internet devices, MP3 players and other consumer electronics that can run on the Clear WiMAX network.
- The Clear network should provide customers with average download speeds initially of 2-4 megabits per second and peak rates that are considerably faster.
- Clearwire now has 100 MHz or more of 4G spectrum in most markets across the U.S.