Cisco, Clearwire in Big WiMax Partnership

WiMax network provider Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) has signed up networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) in an alliance where Cisco will provide back-end infrastructure gear as well as end-user connectivity devices for Clearwire’s nascent national wireless network.

More details are coming on a conference call this morning, but even just the basics of the deal count as a huge win for Clearwire in particular, and WiMax in general. As part of the announcement Cisco said it will introduce a “mobile WiMax device” later this year, in synch with Clearwire’s plans to expand to several more cities beyond its current live markets of Portland, Ore., Baltimore, Md., and Atlanta.

Stay tuned for what promises to be a WiMax news-filled day, with the Cisco deal followed by Clearwire’s earnings call later this afternoon.

C/Net’s Maggie Reardon has a good recap of the news. We will have more analysis later but our initial thinking is that this deal (which appears to be much more involved than a straight Cisco-sells-to-provider relationship) gives Clearwire an instant credibility boost not just with Silicon Valley and gear suppliers, but with investors and others who might have been on the fence about Clearwire’s future.

We did ask on the call if there was an investment by Cisco into Clearwire, but the response was no comment. Maybe we’ll hear more details during the financial call this afternoon.

MORE LINKS: Unstrung’s Dan Jones is wondering what devices Cisco might deliver to the WiMax equation. One of our initial reactions was whether Cisco might purchase Cradlepoint, maker of mobile Wi-Fi routers like Clearwire’s Clear Spot.

And here’s the press release on Yahoo.

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