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We’re sick of reading stories about how the credit crunch may slow Clearwire’s WiMAX deployment, which we first questioned last fall. And since Clearwire has consistently declined to comment on this particular issue, we may just have to wait until it reports quarterly results on March […]

We’re sick of reading stories about how the credit crunch may slow Clearwire’s WiMAX deployment, which we first questioned last fall. And since Clearwire has consistently declined to comment on this particular issue, we may just have to wait until it reports quarterly results on March 5. In the meantime, we think we’ve found some indication as to which cities will get the Clear WiMAX network soonest — based on some of the company’s job listings. Most of the cities are the usual suspects, and we can’t use this to tell you any specific dates, but we welcome your thoughts and insights.

Some job openings have already been taken down. So far, job boards show expired listings for Clearwire network deployment project managers in Austin, (Texas), Ohio and Kentucky. Were those filled or taken down as part of a planned slowdown? Clearwire isn’t saying — Susan Johnson, Clearwire’s spokeswoman, emailed us the following statement, “As you pointed out, we are actively recruiting for a number of positions throughout the country. However, it’s important to note that it takes 1-2 years to build and construct a market.”

So, armed with those caveats, below is what we’ve learned from the company’s web:

  • Cities with sales, RF engineers and training jobs open, indicating where serious progress is being made: Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
  • Cities hiring RF Engineers and backhaul engineers, indicating that network buildouts are in progress or soon-to-be built: San Francisco, Los Angles, Orange Country (Calif.), San Jose (Calif.) and Houston.
  • Cities with openings for network deployment project managers, who will pave the way for the RF and microwave engineers to get their jobs done, indicating that service is even farther out: Denver, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, South Chicago and Gary (Ind.)
By Stacey Higginbotham

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  1. As a Seattle Clearwire customer, I’m hoping desperately that their Portland team (where they’ve already installed) is just gonna float a few hours north and work on deploying WiMAX here.

    Being based just next door in Kirkland, WA, I think it would sorta be a slap in the face to their locale for Clearwire to expand across the country before they do on the home-front.

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  2. You know, not to be terribly off topic here, but as the geek goto in my circle at work and friends, and with the Clear commercials being all over here (Seattle) I’m getting asked about Clear quite a bit. And to be honest, I’ve yet to have a compelling reason to steer someone towards WiMax over and of the already existing wireless standards. Om’s recent experience notwithstanding, AT&T’s HSDPA network here in Seattle is outstanding, both in speed in coverage.. As is the Verizon 3g as well.. Hell even Sprint is pretty good here. My point is that in a market as saturated with good networks as Seattle, I really question Clear’s long term viability.. Even Tmo has good 3g here now!

    My two .02 cents

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  3. I have a Clearwire pc card for my laptop in Seattle, and I get coverage seemingly everywhere I go, and I can attest that it is fast. I haven’t used any of the 3g providers, but my iphone is not even close in speed to the Clearwire modem, although that isn’t a very fair comparison.

    Like Michael, I am holding out hope that Seattle gets converted in the very near future. Since they are based here, they likely already have the folks in place to perform the rollout of the updated network, and job postings wouldn’t indicate progress. I imagine that goes for most markets they already provide service in.

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  4. [...] agree with Stacey: It gets tiring to read the somewhat endless parade of reports claiming dire straits for Clearwire, [...]

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  5. Did you notice that in their last earnings report two weeks ago, Google wrote off their $350M investment in Clearwire. They were supposed to contribute $500M to the deal. What does that say?

    I posted about this situation, one in which i am also trying to read the tea leaves, on Jan 22: http://tinyurl.com/at657r

    Here’s the thing — Clearwire’s partners were to contribute $3.2B to this deal, which was designed to serve as the catalyst for “the new Clearwire” IPO. They would need a lot more than $3.2B to build out a nationwide WiMax/4G network. But the public markets are closed to IPO’s, especially large-scale, highly risky, questionable IPO’s with profitability in 2015 or beyond. So I don’t see how Clearwire can pull this off.

    Hoping that Om “cracks the code” on this one for us. In the meantime, 3G fills the bill just fine; and Verizon/AT&T have other plans for 4G. Sprint is going to be lucky just to stay in business. I’m rooting for Ole’ Dan (Hesse), though.

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  6. To play devil’s advocate, its possible Clearwire has placed faux job postings, to distract those who are pushing them to come out with a deployment roadmap. Its perhaps cynical of me to think so … but then, this is a very easy way out of the sticky situation Clearwire is likely in, relative to further investment on new market deployments; and one that will provide them a pool of resumes for when/if they do deploy in these markets.

    BTW, I honestly hope my conspiracy theory is absolutely wrong, since it will be exciting to finally have wireless broadband service available all over!
    -v

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  7. Also from Seattle, I have a lot of hopes for Clearwire. As a subscriber, there are these brief moments where I marvel in modern technology: Fishing in the Sound with full internet access, for example.

    To a large degree, it makes complete sense that a full roll-out isn’t in their home market… for the simple reasons stated in previous comments: Seattle has very competitive ISP’s, and Seattle has (generally) excellent coverage+speed from mobile providers.

    Likewise, I would gather that the majority of coastal cities will be highly competitive.

    That said… I still think this project would get better traction in Europe, where the population densities are higher, mobile roaming is a shark, and ISP+Carriers are still trying to get a grapple on which way is North (certain markets/cities are served very well, while expansion plans are often perplexing).

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  8. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, February 12, 2009

    For those wondering about Seattle/Kirkland. I have no doubts they are planning an expansion there, but since the corporate HQ is also there, it’s a bigger leap to assume an RF engineer hired there might be for the sole purpose of building a local network rather than a more company-wide function. But, they are hiring RF engineers in that area.

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  9. Understand that Clearwire has a toss up situation – Build out brand new markets with WiMAX, or Convert existing “Expedience” markets to WiMax. Both have there benefits and perils. New markets are costly and have no ROI for about 18 months(being very optimistic there) but carry the “New Car Smell” happiness with it. Whereas converting a current market requires being able to run dual networks until the switch is complete, which means gaining the rights to place more equipment on a tower which in some cases might not be allowed due to leasing/saftey constraints and also switching existing customers to new devices… rough either way you go. But I think Clear (the Wimax version) will show us 7-10 brand new markets by the end of the year, and we will see maybe 5-10 conversions markets by the end of the year….

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  10. @Steve Bell you need to understand that the writeoffs relate to the investment potential, and have no effect on the cash. Clearwire got the full $3.2 billion, so not sure what your point is.

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