Clearwire (s clwr) has enough money to provide 4G wireless broadband service to 75 million people this year, and hopes to raise enough to boost that to 120 million by 2010. Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow tells The Seattle Times today that the $2.5 billion the company has allocated for expansion will only go so far, however, and after that it will need more cash. Given that Verizon (s vz) plans to cover 100 million people by the end of 2010 with a competing Long Term Evolution 4G network, a delay in fundraising may leave Clearwire in the dust with regard to some of its ambitious plans to provide wireless access for consumer devices — such as e-readers — that need a nationwide presence.
And amidst the worst fundraising environment in a decade, it’s hard to feel confident that Clearwire can bring in investors to its vision, which has already sucked in several billion over the last few years and (so far) led to more than $1 billion in writeoffs. But Morrow has a plan, which looks surprisingly like taking advantage of the fact that cable companies and Sprint (s S) don’t have a mobile broadband offering outside of WiMAX. From the The Seattle Times interview:
If you consider just for a moment the opportunity to grow in this marketplace, where almost everybody confirms the real growth is going to be in a broader-band wireless mobile play, we’re in the sweet spot. Sprint is relying on us to do that for them, the cable companies don’t have their own access for this and there’s really no other carrier with the spectrum to be able to launch into this area, other than AT&T and Verizon, and this is a brand-new space.
In short, we own this spectrum and Sprint and the cable guys have their backs to the wall with regard to having a mobile broadband product. So, they’ll have to fund us.