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San Francisco to Get Clearwire WiMAX in 2010

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[qi:gigaom_icon_4G] Silicon Valley might be the hub of technology innovation, but that doesn’t guarantee its residents access to the latest in wireless broadband. Clearwire’s (s CLWR) WiMAX service, like competing 4G wireless broadband technology Long Term Evolution (LTE), isn’t going to arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area until sometime in 2010, according to Bill Morrow, chief executive officer of the Kirkland, Wash.-based company. Morrow is widely viewed as a turnaround CEO who in the past has worked for PG&E and Vodafone (s vod).

I recently met with Morrow to get an update on his company, which is racing against Verizon’s (s VZ) 4G wireless broadband rollout. While he wouldn’t give a specific launch date, I don’t think we should be expecting a live network in the first quarter of the year. I’ve talked to some of Clearwire’s local employees, and the company is working furiously to deploy the network equipment. Earlier this year, Stacey reported that the company was hiring a lot of people in different parts of the country, including San Francisco.

Clearwire has so far launched its service in four cities: Portland, Ore., Las Vegas, Baltimore and Atlanta. The company will deploy its wireless broadband service in another 10 cities sometime in September 2009. It hopes to bring its service to the top one-third of cities that make up the U.S. market, giving it access to about 120 million potential customers.

clearwirestock.gifAfter that, the company will be surgical about its network rollouts, Morrow said. The company hopes this will allow it to remain ahead of its competitors — primarily Verizon Wireless, which is launching its LTE-based 4G wireless networks sometime in 2010. Clearwire’s network deployment has made investors optimistic about the company’s future. Over the past six months, the company’s stock has tripled to $9 per share from around $3 a share, though it has been inching lower since early August.

I will write up my conversation with Morrow later this week, after I have had some time to mull over his comments.

11 Responses to “San Francisco to Get Clearwire WiMAX in 2010”

  1. A few years ago Intel conducted an early WiMAX test with CalTrain. The test involved WiMAX routers mounted along the Silicon Valley railway, connected to fiber optic cable that was laid during the last centuries broadband boom. CalTrain insists that although the tests were successful, the agencies profit neutral status prevents them from activating a WiMAX service that would stretch from San Francisco to San Jose.

    CalTrain claims that they are looking for proposals to take over the WiMAX-Optic infrastructure, but that there is little interest. I’m wondering why ClearWire wouldn’t be interested in a right-of-way that runs the full length of Silicon Valley, and is prepped to go?


  2. Jack Hamilton

    What is the definition of “San Francisco” area? Will service go down to Cupertino, up to Novato, and over to Sacramento? Or will be footprint be much smaller?

  3. For Sprint this also means another locale to sell hybrid 3G/4G services (for devices like the mobile routers they intro’d last week), which will be needed by true road warriors who want one device/one service for more than one geographical region.

    Plus remember Sprint is majority owner of Clearwire, so any profits also help the Sprint bottom line.

    Don’t forget, CLWR earnings tomorrow… should be interesting to see the second quarter of subscriber numbers from Portland.

  4. In San Fran, Clearwire could give AT&T a run for its money as a DSL alternative, plus it’ll make a sweet bundle for Comcast in SF…

    What does this mean for Sprint? Network backhaul revenues.

    I guess this quashes the whisper campaign that the GSM people had going against WiMAX……

    • Sprint owns a big portion of CLearwire. So from that perspective it is good news. Of course, clearwire is using their 3G network to fill the gaps. from that perspective it is not a bad deal for Sprint

  5. Thank Heavens!
    I’m so relieved to hear that San Fransisco is not going to be left behind on the *latest* cutting edge broadband product!
    I’d hate to think that consumers there would only have a half dozen choices on how to connect to the internet with fast reliable speeds as opposed to most of the rural U.S. which has the option of dial-up or paying through the nose for capped satellite connections that go down on cloudy days.

    Go Clearwire!