The Clearwire Timeline: What Will Thursday’s Call Add?

February 16, 2011

With no inside knowledge, we are still expecting that Thursday’s scheduled Q4/2010 yearly earnings call from nascent national WiMAX provider Clearwire will yield some solid news about the company’s path forward, including a full explanation of the rumors that say Clearwire will ditch retail operations and focus on being a wholesale provider to partners like Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

While we have some guesses as to which way things may go — and who may or may not be leaving the company sometime soon — we’ll wait for the official word and report immediately after. (You can also follow us on Twitter, @paulkaps, for off the cuff reactions to the news on the call which starts at 1:30 Pacific Time.) As a public service we present the following timeline with Clearwire historical highlights — please feel free to add your own in the comments.


(An unofficial review of the top events in the history of Clearwire, the provider of a WiMAX 4G network in 71+ markets in the U.S.)

August, 2004 — Clearwire debuts in Jacksonville, Fla. (Though Clearwire’s technology is a proprietary WiMax-like flavor, it is close enough to real WiMax that Clearwire’s planned switch to standards-based gear should not cause undue hardships to the company and its customers.)

October, 2004 — Intel Capital signs on as a Clearwire investor, the first of many WiMax investments from Intel.

May 2005 — Intel and Sprint announced a “joint effort” to advance mobile WiMax, with no mention of funding or investment.

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Wanted: One Data Plan to Rule Them All

February 13, 2011

The big Mobile World Congress show hasn’t even really started yet and already we are swamped with news of new superphones, tablets and pads, all vying to become the next big thing in wireless. The problem is, no matter how cool, fast or fun each one is, no single device can perfectly answer the needs of all our mobile Three Cs: Communicating, Creating and Consuming. But if we had one data plan to use across all types of devices? That would be something to write home about.

No pad or tablet will ever handle calls as well as a phone, and few phone-size devices can match tablets or pads for making content consumption so pleasurable; and there’s still nothing that really tops a full-feature laptop with its full-sized keyboard for being able to create content on the go. That’s why I subscribe to the theory that says most mobile professionals will soon own a “stack” of mobile devices, each with a singular purpose. Device manufacturers and service providers alike are out there now, nodding their heads, saying Yes! Please let it be so!

But what’s needed to make that happen quickly is a brave mobile carrier to be a trailblazer and provide a single data plan that covers multiple devices, allowing a user to spend their “bucket of bits” via the device, the time and the manner of their choosing. Otherwise, the device stack option is going to remain something that only the budget-rich can afford, and many cool devices will fall by the wayside simply because there isn’t enough reason for folks to sign up for yet another expensive 2-year contract with big early termination fees.

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Clearwire’s New Chairman: A Trusted McCaw Ally

January 18, 2011

Founder Craig McCaw may have resigned as chairman of WiMAX provider Clearwire, but don’t doubt that his influence is still being felt there. The company announced today that board member and longtime wireless industry exec (and key McCaw ally) John Stanton was elected as chairman of the board, thereby guaranteeing that McCaw will at the very least have a close ally at the top of the company he helped found.

Sam Churchill over at has a good thorough writeup of the Stanton move with some pertinent links. What we are watching for at Clearwire is the re-emergence of dealmaker Ben Wolff, the company’s first CEO and the mastermind (from what we have heard) of the complex financial investment deal that birthed the new Clearwire in the first place. Can Wolff, who convinced players like Intel, Comcast and Google to invest a combined $3.2 billion in Clearwire back in 2008, work his dealmaking magic again? That’s the billion-dollar question around Clearwire these days.