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April 23, 2007

Clearwire's TV plans

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:54 AM

Clearwire is considering adding TV service to its voice and Internet plans, according to a story today in Red Herring.

The story reported that Clearwire, which provides broadband wireless access, could start bundling satellite TV, voice and Internet access in some of its 34 markets in the United States.

"Bundling other services with our products either on our network or in partnership with others is definitely an option for us," Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff said. "But it has to be driven by the customers and not analysts or the desire to be 'me-too' in the market."

About a year ago, the big rumor was that DirecTV, which is owned by News Corp., could make a huge investment in Clearwire based on public statements that it would invest up to $1 billion in wireless broadband.

Satellite TV services are in one of the most defensive positions because it is only able to provide video. In order to provide voice and Internet services, it has to partner with a provider.

In a September story on triple and quadruple plays, I quoted Michael Arden, principal analyst at ABI Research on the prospects of Clearwire partnering with a satellite TV company.

"The satellite guys have two options: Buy or lease DSL lines, or use WiMax or some other wireless broadband technology," he said.

Arden said Clearwire is the most likely partner for DirecTV or EchoStar. Sprint Nextel, which also is building a WiMax network, is already partnered with cable companies, making a partnership with cable's biggest competitors -- satellite -- unlikely.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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