Clearwire CEO William Morrow, on his first conference call yesterday, did several things right. He toned down the first-mover advantage statements regarding Clearwire’s WiMAX technology and rival fourth-generation wireless technology, LTE, and instead focused on the capacity and openness of the WiMAX network. He pointed out that WiMAX offered a way for customers to get streaming video or other applications that carriers are currently leery of. He also was emphatic that even though LTE and WiMAX are similar, Clearwire isn’t planning on dumping WiMAX in favor of LTE anytime soon:
If it ever comes to, and I think this was stated in the past, I mean, much into the future, if economies of scale ever get to the point to where it’s advantageous for Clearwire to be also propagating LTE and offering LTE-type technology to its end users, then of course we can do that.
As Dr. Saw has kind of said, I think in the past to many of you, there is an architecture that is IP, that is independent as to whether it is LTE or WiMAX, and we have the ability to add that. Obviously, there would be some cost in it. We don’t think at this point there would be any sort of write-off of the WiMAX because again, it’s going to have a life of its own and be able to sustain itself.
Plenty of people believe WiMAX has a place in this world, and most of them are not on the carrier side. However, as the PC makers and the rest of the technology industry infiltrate the wireless market, Clearwire’s bet on the more open WiMAX technology may pay off. So far, the take-up rate for WiMAX in the few cities where it has launched has looked good. Clearwire added 25,000 new subscriptions this quarter, and users in Portland, Ore., where the service launched in January, are using twice the bandwidth than those in Clearwire’s Pre-WiMAX markets.