Clearwire Call: When Will 4G Arrive in NYC, SF?

While we don’t have any insider knowledge as to what the company will say, here are a few topics we will be looking for more information on during the Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) quarterly and year-end conference call this Wednesday, and our guesses as to what the answers might be:

MARKET LAUNCHES: Clearwire said publicly last year that 2010 will see a lot of new market launches, including the important big-city markets of New York, San Francisco, Boston, Houston and Washington D.C. With Verizon starting to ramp up the publicity machine for its Long Term Evolution market launches later this year, it behooves Clearwire to offer more clarity on “when” its 4G WiMAX services will hit the Big Apple, Beantown and the Left Coast. Our guess? Look for NY and SF later in the year, Boston and D.C. in the summer.

THE WIMAX SMARTPHONE
: Since its partner Sprint upped the WiMAX smartphone ante by leaking some launch details to Forbes last week, Clearwire will likely be questioned closely on shipping dates for the hybrid 3G/4G smartphone that Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow had previously promised to ship sometime before Christmas 2010. Our guess is that this is something that Sprint wants to have first, so Clearwire’s own version may have to wait.

WHOLESALE MARKETS: While we don’t believe the rumors of Clearwire getting out of the retail business, it does make sense that the provider’s big-name wholesale partners — like Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable — may eventually end up with more total customers than Clearwire corporate. While it’s still early days for the wholesale partners (who only really started reselling services in the middle of 2009), it would be interesting to hear some actual wholesale-customer subscriber numbers (which neither Clearwire nor its partners have provided so far) and perhaps some predictions about how big a percentage the wholesale business will be to Clearwire over time. Our guess is that it’s probably still too soon to hear any detailed numbers or predictions, or any information on a possible spectrum lease to someone like T-Mobile.

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