Clearwire Hits 6 Million Subscriber Mark

May 4, 2011

Apparently the death of WiMAX has been greatly exaggerated as national nascent WiMAX provider Clearwire announced Wednesday that it has broken through the 6-million subscriber mark and expects to have more than 9 million 4G customers on its network by year end.

Though nobody is expecting Clearwire to overtake cellular giants like AT&T or Verizon Wireless anytime soon, its first-mover status in the world of U.S. 4G wireless services continues to pay off in solid subscription adds, with an additional 1.8 million subscribers added during the first three months of 2011 according to the company. With almost all of those (1.6 million) being wholesale subscribers, Clearwire seems well on its way toward becoming almost completely a wholesale-services provider, a strategic shift that has been underway since about last fall. Right now, Clearwire has 6.15 million total subscribers on its 4G network, with 1.29 million retail subscribers and 4.86 million wholesale customers. Clearwire now expects to finish the year with 9.5 million subscribers, up from 8.8 million it had predicted three months ago.

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Two Things That Submarined the Clear Brand: Sprint’s 4G Smartphone Success and the Hybrid Hotspot

February 9, 2011

From several reports leaking out Wednesday night it is becoming apparent that Clearwire’s days of having its own retail brand are at the very least numbered, if not quite yet at zero. While we are guessing there will be more real details (and perhaps some more executive departures) discussed at both the upcoming Sprint earnings call on Feb. 10 and the Clearwire call on Feb. 17, the switch to a wholesale-first strategy makes a lot of sense for Clearwire since it technically has already happened, when wholesale numbers surpassed Clear-brand retail customers during the third quarter of 2010.

While we’re going to wait to dissect the shift until after real confirmed details arise, we can take a quick look back at two developments that are most likely the chief reasons why the Clear brand strategy got submarined: The success of the Sprint 4G smartphone introductions and the introduction of mobile hotspots, especially Sprint’s hybrid 3G/4G Overdrive hotspot as well as the hotspot feature in the 4G phones.

Though Sprint and Clearwire had previously been fairly frank about not seeing any competition between brands, most of that talk occurred before this past summer’s introduction of the first real 4G smartphone, Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G. The buzz winner at CTIA translated into a sellout success at the retail level, clearly surprising Sprint and its supplier since the company ran out of EVOs to sell not long after the introduction.
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Clearwire Looks to Raise $1.1B in Debt Offering

December 2, 2010

Nascent national WiMAX wireless provider Clearwire announced plans to raise $1.1 billion via a “debt offering” that will be used for “general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures.” Sidecut unofficial translation: “We’re borrowing some money to keep the lights on and finish building the towers we’ve already started.”

Sidecut readers know we can explain technical network underpinnings, but when it comes to figuring out just who will lend Clearwire this dough and what part of the company they get in exchange — read the press release yourself and let us know what you think. We know from our mailing list that there are lots of financial types out there, so now it is time to step forward and show us how smart you are — send us an email to kaps @ sidecutreports.com and I will post the responses.

Clearwire also announced three new board nominees from Sprint, with one name standing out (to us, anyway, since we know him well) — Hossein Eslambolchi, former AT&T techno-wizard and an all-around smart smart guy when it comes to networks and business. The kind of guy who could be leading a big, new networking company. Hmmm.

There’s also a new home modem for Clear service with Wi-Fi built in. We’re still looking for that promised Cradlepoint device that is both a home router and a portable Wi-Fi pocketspot… maybe at CES?