Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) said today that its partner Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR) has raised enough funding to provide a “reasonable likelihood” that it will be able to build out wireless internet in all 39 states, where the cable company operates.
During a conference call this morning, discussing Comcast’s intent to buy 51 percent of *NBC Universal*, Comcast’s Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, said Clearwire has been able to reach scale with a relatively small investment from Comcast: “I really feel that we made a big strategy investment with Clearwire for the wireless side of the business. And just in the last couple of weeks, Clearwire has raised close to $3 billion of fresh capital, combination of equity and debt. Comcast represented well less than 10 percent of the money that was raised, I believe, and — proving to me that there is a reasonable likelihood that Clearwire is going to continue to build out the 4G network all over our markets.” [Transcript here.]
Comcast’s investment of $196 million in this round represents an even small portion than Roberts said — roughly 7 percent. Although that’s in addition to the $1 billion Comcast previously invested, of course. Clearwire has said that it expects to cover as many as 120 million people by the end of 2010. Comcast has already started reselling Clearwire’s services in some markets, including Portland, Chicago and Philadelphia.
During the call, Steve Burke, Comcast Cable’s COO and President, touched briefly on how wireless could play a role in the future, especially in regards to specific channels, such as G4, Style, Versus and NBC Universal’s Bravo and Oxygen. “We also think putting these channels together and bringing them into new distribution platforms, such as wireless, video on demand and Internet, create real opportunities.”