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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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January 15, 2008 2:32 PM

Clearwire's partnership with Google

Posted by Tricia Duryee

No, it's not what you are thinking -- today's announcement is not about Google investing big bucks into Clearwire or lending it spectrum to build-out a nationwide wireless broadband network.

At least not yet.

Clearwire said today that Google will provide the back-end infrastructure for e-mail, chat and calendar to Clearwire's customers. The change will take place over the next few months, but customers are unlikely to notice the change because they will still have access to their current Cleawire.net e-mail accounts, said
Clearwire spokeswoman Helen Chung.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 3, 2008 10:48 AM

Analyst gives Clearwire "buy" rating

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sid Parakh of McAdams Wright Ragen said today in a note to investors that Kirkland-based Clearwire is not being valued appropriately, and revised the company's price target up to as much as $28 a share.

In early afternoon trading, Clearwire's stock was trading around $12.79 a share, or down about 37 cents.

Parakh wrote that if you added up only the value of Clearwire's spectrum -- or airwaves that it owns -- it would have an estimated value of about $11 to $25 a share.

Why is it undervalued?

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: WiMax |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 11, 2007 11:14 AM

Sprint to go live with Xohm very soon

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint is planning to launch its WiMax networks in Chicago and Baltimore-Washington, D.C., within the week, according to Telephony magazine.

Sprint officials told Telephony that the soft launch will extend only to Sprint employees and is intended to prepare the networks for a broader trial early next year. At first, they will cover the downtown cores of Chicago, Baltimore and Washington but expand rapidly into the suburbs.

The industry has been waiting for Sprint Nextel to launch its network. Last year it committed to spending billions of dollars and rolling out a nationwide WiMax network. Earlier this year, it signed a letter of intent with Kirkland-based Clearwire to share the work and the costs, but that agreement fizzled. Since then, industry analysts have questioned Sprint's commitment, and the initiative seemed to be up in the air.

Sprint's launch of its WiMax service, called Xohm, will be the first high-profile release of true mobile WiMax technology.

Clearwire, founded by Craig McCaw, is often portrayed as the leader or the largest WiMax company because it already serves about 40 markets and has thousands of customers. However, it is not using the true mobile WiMax standard.

Clearwire is using proprietary equipment, and its equipment is not truly mobile. An Internet connection can't be handed off from one tower to the next while the user is in a car or on a train.

Clearwire and a partner, Intel, has been testing mobile WiMax in Portland, and is expected to upgrade its technology in existing markets over time.

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December 6, 2007 1:53 PM

Strong links between entrepreneurs and dyslexia

Posted by Tricia Duryee

A new study suggests that a "staggering" number of entrepreneurs in the U.S. identify themselves as dyslexic, according to a story in the International Herald Tribune.

The report said that of the entrepreneurs interviewed, 35 percent said they were dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely to delegate authority and to excel in oral communication and problem solving. They were also twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

One good example in our own back yard is Craig McCaw, who has a long list of companies he started: Clearwire, Nextel Communications, XO Communications, Teledesic and McCaw Cellular Communications,

Members of his executive teams frequently describe him as being creative, not too wrapped up in the details, and capable of delegating authority.

The article pointed out that the connection between entrepreneurs and dyslexia has been made before. Fortune had a cover story five years ago mentioning McCaw, but also Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways; Charles Schwab, founder of the discount brokerage that bears his name; John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco; and Paul Orfalea, founder of the Kinko's copy chain.

Why is this?

Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, who conducted the study, said:

"We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills. If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you'll hear over and over, 'It won't work. It can't be done.' But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems."

The study was based on a survey of 139 business owners in a wide range of fields across the U.S.

Logan called the results staggering, especially when juxtaposed with the information that about 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia.

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December 5, 2007 8:12 AM

Surprise, Clearwire will not bid for spectrum

Posted by Tricia Duryee

On Monday, companies had to tell the FCC whether they were interested in participating in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction and, by Tuesday, everyone was speculating who those companies were.

I linked to TechCrunch, which had a pretty thorough list of who it thought was participating.

Kirkland-based Clearwire, the wireless broadband provider looking to eventually roll out WiMax, was a foregone conclusion -- of course it would participate.

Well, today the company, founded by Craig McCaw, had a one-sentence SEC filing: "Clearwire Corporation announced today that it will not be bidding in the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 MHz band."

It's understandable why Clearwire would not want to bid. First of all, the spectrum it owns in the U.S. is in the 2.5 GHz band. Second, it holds the second-largest chunk of that spectrum in the U.S., following Sprint Nextel. Third, although its pending partnership with Sprint Nextel dissolved recently, there is no reason that the two companies couldn't work together, or at least swap spectrum in the future.

I believe the only companies that officially said they were going to participate were Google, Frontline Wireless, and likely Verizon Wireless.

Comments | Category: WiMax , WiMax |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 5, 2007 8:12 AM

Surprise, Clearwire will not bid for spectrum

Posted by Tricia Duryee

On Monday, companies had to tell the FCC whether they were interested in participating in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction and, by Tuesday, everyone was speculating who those companies were.

I linked to TechCrunch, which had a pretty thorough list of who it thought was participating.

Kirkland-based Clearwire, the wireless broadband provider looking to eventually roll out WiMax, was a foregone conclusion -- of course it would participate.

Well, today the company, founded by Craig McCaw, had a one-sentence SEC filing: "Clearwire Corporation announced today that it will not be bidding in the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 MHz band."

It's understandable why Clearwire would not want to bid. First of all, the spectrum it owns in the U.S. is in the 2.5 GHz band. Second, it holds the second-largest chunk of that spectrum in the U.S., following Sprint Nextel. Third, although its pending partnership with Sprint Nextel dissolved recently, there is no reason that the two companies couldn't work together, or at least swap spectrum in the future.

I believe the only companies that officially said they were going to participate were Google, Frontline Wireless, and likely Verizon Wireless.

Comments | Category: WiMax , WiMax |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 3, 2007 12:37 PM

Business as usual for Clearwire

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Despite some doom and gloom about WiMax, Clearwire is acting as if it is business as usual.

The Kirkland-based company said today that it launched a wireless high-speed Internet access and phone service in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte is Clearwire's 45th market.

Clearwire is still rolling out a pre-WiMax solution (which is why I thought it was funny that an analyst in a trade journal today called Clearwire the most successful WiMax company), which is available to consumers either through a home modem, or a PC laptop card.

In fact, as far as I can tell, there's no company selling true WiMax services yet.

The news of the new market didn't exactly send Clearwire's stock rocketing. In afternoon trading, it fell $1.42, or about 19 percent, to $14.15 a share.

Comments | Category: WiMax |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 29, 2007 11:34 AM

Dual wireless standards will likely continue in U.S.

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Verizon Wireless is making headlines for the second time this week.

On Tuesday, I wrote about how it was going to open up its networks to unlocked cellphones and third-party developers.

Today, Verizon Wireless said it is testing out a fourth-generation technology known as LTE, or long-term evolution.

The Wall Street Journal noted that it was interesting Verizon was making this 4G choice because LTE evolves from GSM technology, the most-used standard worldwide. That differs from Verizon's CDMA technology, which is also used by Sprint Nextel in the U.S. but doesn't have a big global following.

The switch makes sense since Verizon Wireless is partly owned by Vodafone, which uses the GSM standard. As the WSJ noted, this will allow Verizon customers to roam more easily internationally. (Today, if its customers go to Europe, they have to get a global phone that has both CDMA and GSM chips.)

But I haven't seen a lot of discussion about what Verizon's decision to test LTE says about WiMax. I think it is a little bit of a black eye for this wireless broadband technology, which gained momentum in the past year. It can't get a break recently.

Sprint Nextel, which is rolling out WiMax, calls WiMax its 4G technology. A partnership with Clearwire to jointly develop a nationwide network dissolved with the departure of Sprint's CEO.

If Sprint Nextel and Clearwire build a nationwide network based on WiMax, and Verizon chooses LTE, it looks like we'll continue to see dual wireless standards in the U.S.

In addition, we are still waiting to hear what AT&T and T-Mobile USA will decide, and there's also the upcoming spectrum auction. It will provide a fresh chunk of airwaves that could throw a new player -- Google -- into the mix. Whoever wins that auction will also have a lot of choices to make.

To confuse the matters even more, Qualcomm is developing a third option based on the technology it acquired from Flarion.

I suppose this is the beauty of capitalism, where the market gets to decide. I'd argue it's worked out fairly well in the U.S. with competition pushing each other to roll out better and better technology. But it's also hard on the consumer, who may or may not have to get new equipment each time he or she changes carriers or travels internationally.

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November 19, 2007 12:00 PM

Is Kindle a sign of WiMax's future?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

On Amazon.com today, Jeff Bezos writes a letter to customers, about reading books -- "I love slipping into a comfortable chair for a long read....The physical book is so elegant that the artifact itself disappears into the background. The paper, glue, ink, and stitching that make up the book vanish, and what remains is the author's world."

And what also remains is Kindle, the wireless portable reading device that Amazon has been secretly working on for more than three years.

With the launch of Amazon's Kindle comes the first-of-its-kind look at what could be a whole new category of wireless devices.

In the WiMax industry, which is attempting to roll out wireless broadband nationwide, there's a lot of talk about consumer devices, including cameras, MP3 players and other devices, always be connected. Sprint Nextel talks about this the most, with Kirkland-based Clearwire also saying that's a potential outcome of having always-on Internet access.

The problem with this is determining how the user should be billed. If Kindle reaches out over the wireless infrastructure for ane-book, who pays for that airtime? The user? In the form of a monthly bill that requires a two-year commitment?

At that point, adoption is almost completely ruled out.

This is why it will be interesting to see how successful Kindle is. It is adopting a new set of billing rules that Sprint Nextel talks about for its WiMax network.

In the press release, Amazon pays for the wireless connectivity for Kindle so there are no monthly wireless bills, data plans, or service commitments for customers.

The next problem is the device's cost: $399.

WiMax is also supposedly able to help with that over the long run. Its chipsets are to be more in line with Wi-Fi, rather than the costly cellular chips that the Kindle requires.

Of course, the WiMax networks still have to be built, and it has to get enough volume for this to happen.

Comments | Category: Devices , E-commerce , WiMax , WiMax , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 19, 2007 12:00 PM

Is Kindle a sign of WiMax's future?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

On Amazon.com today, Jeff Bezos writes a letter to customers, about reading books -- "I love slipping into a comfortable chair for a long read....The physical book is so elegant that the artifact itself disappears into the background. The paper, glue, ink, and stitching that make up the book vanish, and what remains is the author's world."

And what also remains is Kindle, the wireless portable reading device that Amazon has been secretly working on for more than three years.

With the launch of Amazon's Kindle comes the first-of-its-kind look at what could be a whole new category of wireless devices.

In the WiMax industry, which is attempting to roll out wireless broadband nationwide, there's a lot of talk about consumer devices, including cameras, MP3 players and other devices, always be connected. Sprint Nextel talks about this the most, with Kirkland-based Clearwire also saying that's a potential outcome of having always-on Internet access.

The problem with this is determining how the user should be billed. If Kindle reaches out over the wireless infrastructure for ane-book, who pays for that airtime? The user? In the form of a monthly bill that requires a two-year commitment?

At that point, adoption is almost completely ruled out.

This is why it will be interesting to see how successful Kindle is. It is adopting a new set of billing rules that Sprint Nextel talks about for its WiMax network.

In the press release, Amazon pays for the wireless connectivity for Kindle so there are no monthly wireless bills, data plans, or service commitments for customers.

The next problem is the device's cost: $399.

WiMax is also supposedly able to help with that over the long run. Its chipsets are to be more in line with Wi-Fi, rather than the costly cellular chips that the Kindle requires.

Of course, the WiMax networks still have to be built, and it has to get enough volume for this to happen.

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November 14, 2007 3:26 PM

McCaw says he's not ready to sell Clearwire

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire's stock took a pounding, dropping 25 percent last Friday, after the company said it and Sprint Nextel were abandoning their plans for a partnership.

Since then, the stock has regained some ground, closing today at $15.92, up from $13.49 on Friday.

Perhaps that has something to do with a story in today's Wall Street Journal.

The story includes an interview with the company's founder and chairman, Craig McCaw. It details a lot of the background conversations Clearwire was having with Sprint that led to the letter of intent Clearwire and Sprint signed in July.

But the most telling remark in the whole story may have been McCaw's final comment.

There's so much rumor and speculation on what will happen -- whether print will spin off its WiMax unit; or Clearwire will be bought by Comcast or Google; or Sprint and Clearwire will merge.

The story doesn't answer any of those questions.

But McCaw seemed committed on one thing. True, he needs more money; true he's got a lot left to build, the least of which is confidence in Wall Street that WiMax has a future. But he's not willing to sell -- not yet.

He said: "You can't build to sell. If you build to sell, you're not building anything of sustained value."

For anyone who is familiar with McCaw, this probably isn't too much of a surprise. He is a serial entrepreneur, starting and running a number of communication companies over the years. He won big when he sold McCaw Cellular Communications to AT&T, but lost fairly big with the closure of Teledesic, a satellite venture.

But, for better or worse, he's gone along for the ride to the very end in most cases.

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November 9, 2007 9:17 AM

Could Clearwire be partnering with Google?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Is there something else in the works now that Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have officially said they are not going through with their partnership announced in July?

Despite the break-up, Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff hinted in the third-quarter conference call this morning that something else may still be in the works.

He said that because of the spectrum auction coming up in January, there has been immense interest in the wireless broadband business, and a Sprint partnership would have precluded working with anyone else.

And who that might be?

Google?

It's no secret that Google has been really interested in the business, pledging billions to participate in the auction and lobbying the FCC hard to tailor the spectrum to its desires.

Wolff said that he can't talk about any transactions publicly until they are complete, but that in general "I would say that there are a number of factors that caused an increased focus on the space that we are in," he said. "We are looking and exploring all of our strategic options and there's a quite a bit of focus on this space right now."

Wolff said it was only in the past 48 hours that the partnership with Sprint had fallen apart, and that he and Gary Forsee, who was Sprint's CEO at the time of the letter of intent, thought it would have closed within 60 days of the partnership's announcement in July. But since then, Forsee resigned and Sprint Nextel has come under increasing fire for its poor performance on its cellular networks, and investors are saying its upcoming WiMax business is a distraction to that core business.

As I wrote in the blog item before, Sprint said in its quarterly filing with the SEC this morning:

"We recently agreed with Clearwire Corporation to terminate the non-binding letter of intent signed by us and Clearwire in July 2007 that provided, among other things, for the joint construction of a nationwide broadband network based on WiMAX technology."

In Clearwire's third-quarter press release, the company offered slightly more details, and sounded even optimistic, saying discussions with Sprint continue, but no partnership is guaranteed:

"Clearwire and Sprint Nextel continue their discussions regarding how best to collaborate for the deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. Over the course of the parties' discussions, Clearwire and Sprint concluded that the joint build transaction originally contemplated by the previously announced letter of intent was likely to introduce a level of additional complexity to each party's business that would be inconsistent with each company's focus on simplicity and the customer experience. Consequently, the parties have agreed to terminate their obligations under the letter of intent, although discussions continue regarding the best means to accomplish the benefits that were expected under the letter of intent. Notwithstanding the ongoing discussions, there can be no assurance that a transaction or agreement between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel will be concluded."

Wolff said: "We are continuing to discuss with Sprint on how to collaborate, but I can't tell you if we will ultimately have a partnership with Sprint or not, but I can tell you that all of our reasons to support the original reason to sign the letter of intent are still there. These opportunities may include other strategic transactions or partnerships, which may or may not include Sprint. There's more demand for the type of networks that Clearwire is building today."

Comments | Category: WiMax , WiMax |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 9, 2007 9:17 AM

Could Clearwire be partnering with Google?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Is there something else in the works now that Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have officially said they are not going through with their partnership announced in July?

Despite the break-up, Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff hinted in the third-quarter conference call this morning that something else may still be in the works.

He said that because of the spectrum auction coming up in January, there has been immense interest in the wireless broadband business, and a Sprint partnership would have precluded working with anyone else.

And who that might be?

Google?

It's no secret that Google has been really interested in the business, pledging billions to participate in the auction and lobbying the FCC hard to tailor the spectrum to its desires.

Wolff said that he can't talk about any transactions publicly until they are complete, but that in general "I would say that there are a number of factors that caused an increased focus on the space that we are in," he said. "We are looking and exploring all of our strategic options and there's a quite a bit of focus on this space right now."

Wolff said it was only in the past 48 hours that the partnership with Sprint had fallen apart, and that he and Gary Forsee, who was Sprint's CEO at the time of the letter of intent, thought it would have closed within 60 days of the partnership's announcement in July. But since then, Forsee resigned and Sprint Nextel has come under increasing fire for its poor performance on its cellular networks, and investors are saying its upcoming WiMax business is a distraction to that core business.

As I wrote in the blog item before, Sprint said in its quarterly filing with the SEC this morning:

"We recently agreed with Clearwire Corporation to terminate the non-binding letter of intent signed by us and Clearwire in July 2007 that provided, among other things, for the joint construction of a nationwide broadband network based on WiMAX technology."

In Clearwire's third-quarter press release, the company offered slightly more details, and sounded even optimistic, saying discussions with Sprint continue, but no partnership is guaranteed:

"Clearwire and Sprint Nextel continue their discussions regarding how best to collaborate for the deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. Over the course of the parties' discussions, Clearwire and Sprint concluded that the joint build transaction originally contemplated by the previously announced letter of intent was likely to introduce a level of additional complexity to each party's business that would be inconsistent with each company's focus on simplicity and the customer experience. Consequently, the parties have agreed to terminate their obligations under the letter of intent, although discussions continue regarding the best means to accomplish the benefits that were expected under the letter of intent. Notwithstanding the ongoing discussions, there can be no assurance that a transaction or agreement between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel will be concluded."

Wolff said: "We are continuing to discuss with Sprint on how to collaborate, but I can't tell you if we will ultimately have a partnership with Sprint or not, but I can tell you that all of our reasons to support the original reason to sign the letter of intent are still there. These opportunities may include other strategic transactions or partnerships, which may or may not include Sprint. There's more demand for the type of networks that Clearwire is building today."

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November 9, 2007 7:50 AM

Sprint Nextel severs ties with Clearwire

Posted by Tricia Duryee

I was expecting an update during Clearwire's third-quarter earnings conference call this morning on its partnership with Sprint Nextel to jointly build out a nationwide network.

But it came earlier than the 8 a.m. call.

In today's paper, we reported that the rumors were circulating that the partnership had ended. Sprint Nextel has come under increasing fire for having bad performance on its cellular networks -- and some investors find its upcoming WiMax business a distraction.

In Sprint's quarterly filing with the SEC filed early this morning it read:

"We recently agreed with Clearwire Corporation to terminate the non-binding letter of intent signed by us and Clearwire in July 2007 that provided, among other things, for the joint construction of a nationwide broadband network based on WiMAX technology."

The "other things" included access to Sprint's cellular network. That would have been valuable in providing a triple play (voice, TV, Internet). It would have also helped in branding efforts.

Clearwire's stock is falling, and is down about 20 percent based on the news. Here's the story from the AP.

In Clearwire's third-quarter press release, the company was slightly more optimistic, saying discussions with Sprint continue, but no partnership is guaranteed.

"Clearwire and Sprint Nextel continue their discussions regarding how best to collaborate for the deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. Over the course of the parties' discussions, Clearwire and Sprint concluded that the joint build transaction originally contemplated by the previously announced letter of intent was likely to introduce a level of additional complexity to each party's business that would be inconsistent with each company's focus on simplicity and the customer experience. Consequently, the parties have agreed to terminate their obligations under the letter of intent, although discussions continue regarding the best means to accomplish the benefits that were expected under the letter of intent. Notwithstanding the ongoing discussions, there can be no assurance that a transaction or agreement between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel will be concluded."

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November 9, 2007 7:50 AM

Sprint Nextel severs ties with Clearwire

Posted by Tricia Duryee

I was expecting an update during Clearwire's third-quarter earnings conference call this morning on its partnership with Sprint Nextel to jointly build out a nationwide network.

But it came earlier than the 8 a.m. call.

In today's paper, we reported that the rumors were circulating that the partnership had ended. Sprint Nextel has come under increasing fire for having bad performance on its cellular networks -- and some investors find its upcoming WiMax business a distraction.

In Sprint's quarterly filing with the SEC filed early this morning it read:

"We recently agreed with Clearwire Corporation to terminate the non-binding letter of intent signed by us and Clearwire in July 2007 that provided, among other things, for the joint construction of a nationwide broadband network based on WiMAX technology."

The "other things" included access to Sprint's cellular network. That would have been valuable in providing a triple play (voice, TV, Internet). It would have also helped in branding efforts.

Clearwire's stock is falling, and is down about 20 percent based on the news. Here's the story from the AP.

In Clearwire's third-quarter press release, the company was slightly more optimistic, saying discussions with Sprint continue, but no partnership is guaranteed.

"Clearwire and Sprint Nextel continue their discussions regarding how best to collaborate for the deployment of a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. Over the course of the parties' discussions, Clearwire and Sprint concluded that the joint build transaction originally contemplated by the previously announced letter of intent was likely to introduce a level of additional complexity to each party's business that would be inconsistent with each company's focus on simplicity and the customer experience. Consequently, the parties have agreed to terminate their obligations under the letter of intent, although discussions continue regarding the best means to accomplish the benefits that were expected under the letter of intent. Notwithstanding the ongoing discussions, there can be no assurance that a transaction or agreement between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel will be concluded."

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October 5, 2007 1:32 PM

Clearwire's stock sinks on several issues

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire's stock fell $3.23, or nearly 14 percent today, to $20.38, representing the largest drop since the company went public. The decline came after a series of events spooked investors, according to Bloomberg.

Here's some of the factors:

-- Bear Stearns cut its rating on the Kirkland company's stock to "peer perform" from "outperform."

-- Bear Stearns said there may be delays in signing a final agreement with Sprint Nextel to co-build a nationwide WiMax network.

-- Bear Stearns said a delay could mean Clearwire needs to borrow more money.

-- Sprint Nextel is quietly seeking a replacement for CEO Gary Forsee, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter."

-- A major rainstorm with possible winds brewing could knock down its network in Seattle.

OK, I'm kidding about that last one, but a number of things obviously could affect Clearwire's short-term performance.

Following the slide, Sid Parakh, an analyst with McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle, reaffirmed its $28 price target.

He said concerns about Sprint's turmoil are valid, but in a nutshell, Clearwire is still on track as a standalone company. It is on target to build out networks in its territories on time, and it has sufficient funds to do so at least until sometime in 2008, he said.

"In addition, CLWR has powerful partners in Intel and Motorola that, we speculate, may be open to the idea of added investments in Clearwire," Parakh wrote.

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September 28, 2007 1:15 PM

WiMax World: The home modem

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- This probably should have been one of my first posts, but sometimes things don't happen in order.

There was a lot of talk this week about future devices that will emerge once networks start getting up and running. The first thing in the progression seems to be modems that can be used at home or at certain locations. Nextwill be PC cards for laptops, then laptops embedded with WiMax chips, and from there -- who knows? A host of consumer devices will go up for sale with WiMax, for instance, MP3 players, cameras, handheld gaming devices and more.

But if you are having a hard time picturing the home modem, I took a picture Thursday. As you can see, it is portable, but it's not particularly handy for toting around. Typically these also have to be plugged into an outlet.

This is for the Sprint Nextel Xohm network. The booth workers say it looks like a coffee cup. If that's true, they must be from Seattle -- it's pretty dang big.

Check it out:

motorola 001.jpg

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September 28, 2007 1:01 PM

WiMax World: Clearwire address the crowd

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- At WiMax World Thursday, Clearwire's Scott Richardson gave hourlong presentation on the progress the Kirkland company has made on deploying a wireless broadband network.

I wrote about the show's final keynote speech for today's paper here.

But in addition to what I wrote about Richardson, Clearwire's chief strategy officer, said he's been spending a lot of time with other vendors and suppliers since the industry has the potential to include a lot of different gadgets and ideas.

Richardson is helping to build the WiMax ecosystem, a concept that Sprint Nextel talks a lot about as it prepares to build its WiMax network.

As an illustration of the types of people Richardson spends time with, he invited on stage with him another company -- Postdata's Flyvo division, which is developing WiMax devices.

On stage, they gave a demonstration of a handheld video game device that can connect to the Iternet. The user can play not only games online with other competitors in cyberspace, but they can also surf the Web.

I caught up with Flyvo's business development manager Ross Lee on the show floor.

He said the device is targeted to launch soon in Korea with KT Telecom
and will cost about $400, but may be offered through the carrier for a $200 discount. He said the demand is expected to be high there, where playing online games is popular.

Here's a live demo Lee gave me at Flyvo's booth:

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September 27, 2007 9:26 AM

WiMax World: Much, much bigger

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- This year's WiMax World has 100 more exhibitors than last year, and booths seem twice as big, considering that they actually have gadgets and other gear to demo.

If you are looking for an example of someone here for the first time, you don't have to look that far.

Spokane-based ReliOn, a company building fuel cells for back-up power needs, is a newbie to the show.

Sandra Saathoff, ReliOn's spokeswoman, said the industry seems to be hitting a point at which it may need backup power solutions for cell sites.

Part of the reason is that the FCC may mandate that cellphone companies, and conceivably WiMax providers that provide voice services, must provide eight hours of backup in case of an emergency.

ReliOn has built a closet-sized system using fuel cells and hydrogen tanks that can provide 48 hours of continuous 1 kilowatt output. Cell sites could require more than that output, which would decrease the amount of time the hydrogen would last. The cabinet costs somewhere in the $14,000 range, but is much more compact than batteries, Saathof said.

wimaxworldfloor 026.jpg

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September 27, 2007 7:00 AM

WiMax World: Clearwire top provider

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- Clearwire this morning received the Best of WiMax World USA 2007 Award in the service provider category.

The annual awards, announced by xchange magazine, recognize leaders in the development and deployment of the high-speed wireless broadband technology.

Clearwire will be recognized in the November issue of xchange, as well as on the WiMax World Web site.

Clearwire is providing wireless broadband based on technology that is a pre-cursor to WiMax. It allows you to plug a modem into an electrical outlet on one end and into a laptop or PC on the other in order to make a connection. The service is offered in more than 40 markets in the U.S., including Seattle.

The rest of the winners are expected to be posted sometime today here.

UPDATE: Here's an entire list of the winners:

The WiMAX World USA Award winners were:

-- Chip Design: Sequans Communications SQN1130

-- System Design: ZyXel MAX-1200/3200 Mobile WiMAX Product Series

-- Device/Peripheral/Application Software: Airspan Networks MiMAX USB

-- Industry Innovation: Sprint Xohm Mobile Internet Services

-- WiMAX World Digital Cities Deployment: Telsima WiMAX Rollout in India

-- Industry Choice: WiMAX CPEi 800/850 Series Desktop CPE

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September 27, 2007 5:56 AM

WiMax World: The Mini Cooper experience

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- Nokia showed off a tablet integrated into the dashboard of a Mini Cooper. I didn't get the full demo of how it would work, but I know that the device would control the car's entertainment system. I think it also does navigation. As you can see, you can take the device with you when you leave the car, giving new meaning to a car stereo faceplate.

Here are some pics:

wimaxworldfloor 003.jpg

wimaxworldfloor 018.jpg

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September 27, 2007 5:45 AM

WiMax World: Motorola demos Web browsing

Posted by Tricia Duryee

This is the second part of the Motorola demos. The first one -- in the last post -- demonstrated how Google Maps works over WiMax. In this one, Motorola shows how a browser can work over WiMax.

In both cases, the demonstration took place at a meeting room at WiMax World. For an accurate experience, Motorola set up a base station in the room using its own technology tonnected to the Internet using a T1 line. The WiMax chipset is in a phone that looks very much like the Razr.

A product marketing manager said the end WiMax product will look much different than a Razr.

Here's a video of a demonstration using the Opera browser:

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September 27, 2007 5:32 AM

WiMax World: Nokia ultra-mobile devices

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- I reported a story today recounting how for the first time the focus at WiMax World was on devices and applications rather than justbuilding the networks.

Even though networks won't be up and running until late this year or early next, the devices are set to launch at about the same time.

The early emphasis will be on PC cards, which can easily be plugged into a laptop for WiMax connectivity. However, there's an emerging category of devices that are smaller than laptops, but larger mobile phones.

Check out a conversation I had with Chris Staley, Nokia's vice president of sales and customer and market operations. He did a good job explaining where the category is going:

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September 26, 2007 11:06 AM

WiMax World: Revving up

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- The energy here at McCormick Place has cranked up today, the first day of WiMax World.

wimaxworldsign.jpg

Yesterday, the show had a pre-conference day that seemed mild and subdued for an industry on the cusp of rolling out its first commercial networks.

That changed today with this morning's keynotes.

Sean Maloney, an executive vice president at Intel who was being called the father of WiMax, opened up his presentation with an energizing video called "WiMax Love."

He said that WiMax should aim for global domination, just as the cellphone industry went after the whole world.

"It's a dangerous time. We've come a long way from our pioneering work and from standards setting," he said. "We are at the deployment stage, and this is where the race is going to be won or lost over the next year or two."

He listed four challenges that the industry must address:

-- Performance of WiMax networks.
-- Applications must have the capability of the Internet. The Interent is not going to re-optimize everything for smaller devices, so the mobile industry must optimize for the Internet
-- Keep costs low. The chips should be $30 and the customer shouldn't have to pay more than $30 a month.
-- Make things easy to use. Everyone must be able to figure out how to use it.

Maloney's keynote was followed by Barry West, chief technology officer at Sprint Nextel.

He said that WiMax is like a horse out of the stable and running around the track. "There's no other horse in sight," he said.

West said WiMax is definitely in the lead ahead of other technologies. The closest one is LTE, or long-term evolution, which is an adaption from the GSM world -- the technology used by T-Mobile USA and AT&T's wireless division.

Motorola Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior concluded the keynotes.

She said WiMax is much better than existing 3G wireless broadband technologies. She said WiMax has three times better performance and two times the spectrum efficiency at half the cost.

As an example of an application used on a WiMax network, she gave a demonstration. She said YouTube is great, but unfortunately it is in the past -- everything on it is already old news. With WiMax you can make it real-time.

Using a software application that looked like instant messenging, she shared a TV session with some colleagues at Motorola's Schaumburg, Ill.,headquarters, while having live chat sessions, such as a video conference.

Although the demo involved viewing the Discovery channel, you can imagine it might be more compelling with a live football game.

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September 26, 2007 11:06 AM

WiMax World: Revving up

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- The energy here at McCormick Place has cranked up today, the first day of WiMax World.

wimaxworldsign.jpg

Yesterday, the show had a pre-conference day that seemed mild and subdued for an industry on the cusp of rolling out its first commercial networks.

That changed today with this morning's keynotes.

Sean Maloney, an executive vice president at Intel who was being called the father of WiMax, opened up his presentation with an energizing video called "WiMax Love."

He said that WiMax should aim for global domination, just as the cellphone industry went after the whole world.

"It's a dangerous time. We've come a long way from our pioneering work and from standards setting," he said. "We are at the deployment stage, and this is where the race is going to be won or lost over the next year or two."

He listed four challenges that the industry must address:

-- Performance of WiMax networks.
-- Applications must have the capability of the Internet. The Interent is not going to re-optimize everything for smaller devices, so the mobile industry must optimize for the Internet
-- Keep costs low. The chips should be $30 and the customer shouldn't have to pay more than $30 a month.
-- Make things easy to use. Everyone must be able to figure out how to use it.

Maloney's keynote was followed by Barry West, chief technology officer at Sprint Nextel.

He said that WiMax is like a horse out of the stable and running around the track. "There's no other horse in sight," he said.

West said WiMax is definitely in the lead ahead of other technologies. The closest one is LTE, or long-term evolution, which is an adaption from the GSM world -- the technology used by T-Mobile USA and AT&T's wireless division.

Motorola Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior concluded the keynotes.

She said WiMax is much better than existing 3G wireless broadband technologies. She said WiMax has three times better performance and two times the spectrum efficiency at half the cost.

As an example of an application used on a WiMax network, she gave a demonstration. She said YouTube is great, but unfortunately it is in the past -- everything on it is already old news. With WiMax you can make it real-time.

Using a software application that looked like instant messenging, she shared a TV session with some colleagues at Motorola's Schaumburg, Ill.,headquarters, while having live chat sessions, such as a video conference.

Although the demo involved viewing the Discovery channel, you can imagine it might be more compelling with a live football game.

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September 26, 2007 7:19 AM

WiMax World: Record attendance

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- Fred Wright, senior vice president of Motorola's broadband business, took the stage this morning and reflected on WiMax World's growth.

Wright was one of the early participants in the conference, now holding its fourth annual session.

He said there were 500 attendees and a handful of exhibitors in 2004, and this year the number has soared to more than 8,000.

The show's growth mirrors the huge opportunity in front of them, Wright said. He shared statistics that said only 2 percent, or about 5 million people, were using wireless broadband in 2006. By 2010, that number is supposed to go up to as many as 73 million.

Yankee Group Analyst Berge Ayvazian gave an industry update prior to the keynotes this morning. He said that there are more than 275 WiMax trials going on worldwide in 65 countries. Of those trials, 75 are actually commercial services offering fixed and nomadic wireless broadband.

A lot of those trials and deployments are in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and India.

There's also a handful in the U.S. I write a lot about Clearwire's efforts, which have extended to services in more than 30 U.S. cities, and about Sprint Nextel, which is expected to launch its Xohm service in a handful of markets as soon as December.

But there are others as well. DigitalBridge is serving small towns in Idaho and Montana, and Horizon Wi-Com is rolling out services in the Northeast, where Verizon's territory has traditionally been located.

Overall, there's a lot of talk about two emerging markets.

In Third World markets, WiMax is attempting to bring phone and Internet access to a lot of communities for the first time. The wireless technology is proving to be much easier to deploy than traditional wireline services.

In the U.S., the market is about creating new competition and giving people mobility. It's about untethering the Internet to create a whole new set of applications as people's lives become more focused around multimedia, social networks and other applications.

Next up are keynotes by Intel and Sprint Nextel.

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September 26, 2007 6:39 AM

WiMax World: Finding a vendor

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- I ducked into a session on operating WiMax networks Tuesday, and I stumbled upon a company called IntraISP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kirkland-based Clearwire.

Steve Roatch, executive vice president and chief operating officer of IntraISP, was speaking on the panel.

He said that Clearwire acquired IntraISP in June at a very early stage. The company is focused on managing billing and customer management software for WiMax and broadband networks.

Roatch said when Clearwire was looking for a billing system, it didn't approach traditional vendors that serve the telecom industry. Instead it turned to Internet-focused companies. IntraISP got its start serving AOL/Netscape, Roatch said.

And, although Clearwire bought IntraISP, it's allowed to serve even competing WiMax service providers.

He said the big challenge in IT for WiMax networks is staying ahead of plan.

"Keeping up with the business is one of the greatest challenges," he said.

That's especially true as marketing and development teams add new content and applications customers demand.

"The big challenge is in delivering personal broadband," he said.

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September 26, 2007 4:05 AM

WiMax World: Motorola gives live demos

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- At WiMax World last night, Motorola invited the press, analysts and some partners on board a river boat in downtown Chicago to demonstrate some of its WiMax products expected to launch early next year.

The live demonstration required installing four base stations at different points along the Chicago River to deliver the service. In opening remarks, Motorola said it didn't realize what it was getting into when someone had the great idea of demonstrating WiMax on the river. It was essentially an urban canyon because radio frequencies tend to scatter when they hit water and the river is 30 feet below street level.

But as you'll see the demonstration went fairly well.

Here's a map of where the cell sites were located:

motoboatpics 011.jpg

And here's what a WiMax base station looks like on top of a building:

motoboatpics 007.jpg

The more interesting stuff came when Motorola pulled out the devices that were going to use WiMax. I wrote earlieron this blog about how the key was in applications -- not the network. Here are two examples of applications to add to the list:

First up is a live demonstration of a WiMax chipset being used to stream videos from YouTube to the phone. The phone is a working prototype of WiMax, which is not expected to launch commercially until later next year. (Excuse the amateur video quality, I'm a beginner. Also, I apologize for the poor sound quality, but it was very loud in the background because of the number of people on the boat).

In this video, you can see how the WiMax PC card will work in a laptop. WiMax covers much larger distances than Wi-Fi. In the beginning of this clip, you can hear a Motorola executive in the background saying how someday my video could go straight to the Web via WiMax, skipping the mundane process of recording it to tape and then transfering it to my PC and then to the Internet on YouTube.

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September 25, 2007 10:57 AM

WiMax World: On the hunt for applications

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- This is my second WiMax World. Last year, the conference was celebrating the fact that a big-time carrier, Sprint Nextel, had chosen its technology to deploy for its new wireless broadband network.

This year, I'm trying to get a sense of what the buzz is all about.

And although it's super early, I can already feel that the honeymoon period has subsided somewhat, and there are a lot of nuts and bults conversations going on about how they are going to make this all work.

The two main questions I'm hearing are:

-- How will the carriers make money?
-- And what will be the "killer" applications that will drive adoption of the technology?

There are many other issues, too, but I find the second question the most difficult one to find answers for.

I'll probably write a few blogs on this topic, but there were already a couple potential answers shared during this morning's sessions.

Atish Gude, the senior vice president of Sprint Nextel's mobile broadband operations called Xohm, said his company will figure it out later.

"I think it's about the right business model, and it's about having a network that can handle tremendous amounts of Internet time at a low cost," he said. "People will find uses for taking it with them and application developers will come up with great ideas."

To be fair, he later followed up with a slightly more clarified statement: "The first step ought to be taking what they use on the Internet and making it mobile, and after that there can be a lot of models that could be even better...It's not about technology, it's an experience. What do people get when people take their content with them -- and I'm not just talking about your Yahoo or Google content, but your own information from your media center PC at home. It's about accessing that on an anywhere basis -- that's the experience that Xohm is really meant to be."

Richard Lowe, a president at Nortel offered a personal example of how he would use it.

He said it would start at home, where he'd receive an early phone call from a co-worker right as he is leaving the house. He'd transfer it to his iPhone, so he could conduct a video conference call. On the way out of the house, he passes the refridgerator, where he would receive an updated shopping list. Once he gets into the car, the car would automatically pull the address of where he is going and give him turn-by-turn directions. Once he parks at a meter, the car automatically pays the fee, and then sends the charge up to his Quicken account, which would make the deduction.

He said: "4G is more than access, applications and mobility." The term he was keen on using to describe this was "hyperconnectivity."

"It doesn't equal mobility," he said. "It's about a lifestyle that exists out there."

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September 25, 2007 10:37 AM

WiMax World: Some perspective

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- Things are still just ramping up here, while Yankee Group analyst Philip Marshall started this morning's keynotes with some perspective.

He said more than 40 percent of consumers surveyed want mobile Internet access, but less than 10 percent can access the Internet on the go.

He said that's because it's expensive, it's not packaged attractively by wireless carriers and, to a lesser extent, the service performs poorly.

From a WiMax provider's perspective, he asked, how do you economically deliver mobile Internet services in an environment that's looking for unlimited data, or all you can eat?.

He said that puts the pressure on the carriers to figure out how to make money as they transition from focusing on voice calling to an Internet model.

"The Internet is emerging using the service provider as a distribution and market," he said. "It looks like an Internet browser and the service providers are challenged by that because the service model has to change."

He said providers need to move from a communications-centric model to a media- centric model. He points to Google, which took the fairly straightforward technology of Internet search and bundled it with advertising.

Marshall summarized the current market has having latent demand for mobile Internet.

Moderator Berge Ayvazian, also of Yankee, asked Marshall if latent demand means pent-up demand: "Is it latent because people don't bang on the door insisting for it, and asking to uncork it and unbottle it?"

Marshall said perhaps that's true if companies provide services that consumers really want, just like on the Internet, but they had to find the applications that would really drive adoption.

"I'm not sure what those services are going to look like in the mobile world," he said. "whereas in the Internet world, we had to go beyond just connection."

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September 25, 2007 8:42 AM

WiMax World: The facts

Posted by Tricia Duryee

So what is mobile WiMax?

It is broadband Internet access delivered wirelessly to you wherever you are.

For starters, mobile WiMax will probably come from a PC card or a chip in your laptop that allows you to get Internet access. It's similar to Wi-Fi, except that the coverage will be more extensive.

Down the road, new uses are envisioned: WiMax chips installed in cars to provide navigation or cameras that come with the chips.

Speeds: It's expected that the service can deliver up to 20 to 30 megabits per second, a lot faster than DSL or cable, which runs from 1 to 8 megabits.

However, those speeds are possible only if few people are using the service. It's more likely the speeds will be about 2 to 3 Mbps. As demand for faster speeds grows, it can be increased.

Mo Shakouri, vice president of marketing at the WiMAX Forum, said mobile WiMax can reach 30 megabit speeds for each 10 MHz of spectrum. For perspective, Sprint and Clearwire have about 100 MHz, so they are could provide up to 300 megabits.

Cost: Based on what service providers say, they are expecting to charge more than rates for DSL or cable today because their service, they say, is more valuable.

Radio cost: One of the biggest reasons cellular chipsets have not been integrated into consumer-electronic devices more readily is they cost a lot. WiMax chipsets are supposed to be cheaper. Because they aren't much bigger than Wi-Fi chipsets today, the silicon expense should not be much higher.

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September 25, 2007 8:18 AM

WiMax World: The skinny on where WiMax stands today

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- I wrote an advance story Monday about WiMax World that gave a small update as to where the emerging wireless broadband technology stands.

But I didn't get into too many specifics because I thought it might bog down the story with too many technical details. I figured I would take a moment to do that now.

To get the skinny, I talked to Mo Shakouri, vice president of marketing at
the WiMax Forum, a trade association.

First, I characterized WiMax as an emerging technology because a standard for the technology was extablished only recently, and now companies in the field must go through a certification process to get their equipment deemed "true mobile WiMax." The geeky term for that is 802.16e.

So currently there is no mobile WiMax in the world today. Those that offer similar services, such as Kirkland-based Clearwire, are using proprietary equipment (probably from Motorola), or they're offering fixed WiMax, which comes under the name of 802.16d.

But that's going to change soon.

Shakouri said by the end of the year there will be five certification labsaround the world. The one in the U.S. will be in Virginia.

The labs are checking to see if everything works together. For instance, the base stations have to be able to interact with WiMax PC cards and handheld devices.

"We are on target for mobile certification for 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz by the end of this year and beginning of next year," he said. "We expect to get mobile equipment certified in the first half of 2008."

So why is it that Sprint Nextel says it will have its WiMax network up and running in select cities by the first of the year?

Shakouri explained there are two reasons. One: Over the past six to nine months, work has been conducted to take the risk out of the certification process. If a problem does arise, it's likely to be small. "Because of that, people have been more comfortable and are taking the risk," he said.

The second reason is that there is an urgency in deploying the technology.

"Normally you would have said, I will wait until the equipment is certified, but the demand is so high," Shakouri said. "The operator is taking the risk....They believe that there is such industry momentum."

He said the WiMax Forum has counted 270 operators deploying and testing equipment around the world, and 50-plus are talking about deployment.

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September 25, 2007 6:32 AM

WiMax World: Arriving in Chicago...

Posted by Tricia Duryee

CHICAGO -- I flew in on Monday in order to get here on time to attend WiMax World today.

I shared a cab with a woman from the airport to our downtown hotels.

It was during that cab ride that I realized something: that there is a new universal hand signal for using an iPhone, just as there's a sign for typing on the BlackBerry. If you can't picture the BlackBerry sign, think of holding an invisible device with both hands and then pretending to type with two thumbs. That usually follows phrases such as "I'll e-mail you, or I sent you an e-mail."

Well, that's not the sign for an iPhone.

Get this, the woman sitting next to me in the cab, who was turning 70 years old in January, was a die-hard iPhone user. In fact, she had forgotten her phone at home when her husband dropped her off at the airport in Memphis. Luckily her flight was delayed, and he went home, got the iPhone and brought it back from her. She told this story as if her life was about to end without the thing. She said she wouldn't know where she was going for lunch, or be able to call the person she was meeting.

All the while, she was gesturing. It wasn't acting out two-thumb typing; instead, her index finger stretched straight and made a left-to-right swiping motion, imitating the move to unlock the screen or to scroll left and right and up and down.

The woman didn't stop there. The self-proclaimed photo maniac showed me pictures of her grandchildren, zooming in and out on their face, and then even switched to the weather application to tell me what the weather was going to be like while in Chicago (the answer to that is HOT and muggy).

So this is a warning. Prepare to start seeing people swiping their fingers in the air when they say, "I'll call you."

Even if they are 70 years old.

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September 20, 2007 1:47 PM

Intel's latest on WiMax

Posted by Tricia Duryee

At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel discussed Wednesday how it sees the mobile Internet taking shape.

Intel is one of the biggest investors in Kirkland-based Clearwire, and has huge commitments to the emerging WiMax wireless broadband technology.

It promised in a press release issued Wednesday that it will "usher in a new era of reliable broadband-connected wireless computing starting next year."

The way I understand this is that there will be a new category of devices that will come out for WiMax networks that are smaller than a laptop, but bigger than a phone. That category is largely being called UMPCs, for ultra-mobile PCs, but now Intel is also calling them Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).

The deal with these devices is that, unlike a laptop, they are considered low power, so they could conceivably last you all day -- more like a cellphone. This is especially appealing if you have ever been at a conference and you are frantically trying to get some work done when you realize you are in the battery red zone and have to find an outlet immediately. The solution today usually includes looking under the skirts of several tables until you find an outlet, and then sitting on the floor.

However, Intel gave a different reason as to why this is important -- it said mobile WiMax will be needed because user-generated addicted people will need higher speeds to access high-definition videos, music, photos and other large data files on the go.

"In the first half of 2008, Intel will take a major step to deliver what these users are looking for with our first platform designed from the ground up for MIDs and UMPCs -- codenamed Menlow, which will deliver 10x lower power compared to the first UMPCs in the market. After Menlow our next-generation platform -- codenamed Moorestown, will increase battery life an order of magnitude by reducing idle power by 10x compared to Menlow," said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group.

Here's a video Intel posted to YouTube that has Chandrasekher showing off a number of these devices. If you watch towards the end, there's one that looks like a stretched out iPhone.

If you didn't get enough in the last video, you can see a another presentation that's pretty silly. In this video, an Intel worker uses WiMax to prepare for jump off a cliff in Zion National Park. His friend at the bottom of the rock checks the weather and makes an payment on his buddy's health insurance.

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September 20, 2007 1:32 PM

Cellphones trump TVs, but Internet No. 1

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Cellphones have become so essential, people would rather go without TV, but when choosing between cellphones and Internet access, the Internet wins, according to a new survey released this week.

JWT, a large U.S. advertising agency, asked about 1,000 people a number of technology questions earlier this month. The results show that cellphones and Internet access are playing a very important role in people's lives.

Asled how long people could go without Internet access, 15 percent of respondents said a day or less, 21 percent said a couple of days and 19 percent said a few days.

A lot of the findings seem to make a good business case for cellphone operators, as well as WiMax service providers such as Kirkland-based Clearwire and Sprint Nextel, which are all rolling out mobile Internet access.

"Mobility represents the next big shift," says Marian Salzman, JWT's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Older Americans are happy to sit in the same place to go online, while younger people expect to be able to connect anywhere at any time."

In fact, 48 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "If I cannot access the Internet when I want to, I feel like something important is missing."

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September 19, 2007 4:52 PM

Cooperation is good for WiMax

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Monica Paolini, an analyst with Senza Fili Consulting in Issaquah, sent out a report today examining whether the partnership between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel was healthy for the roll out of WiMax wireless broadband networks.

As part of the deal, explained in this story, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire expect to build out portions of the nationwide network and enable roaming between their two systems. Sprint Nextel will cover the more populated areas, potentially reaching up to 185 million people, or about 75 percent of the population in the 50 largest markets. Clearwire is focusing on areas covering about 115 million people. The two companies expect to be able to cover about 100 million people by the end of next year.

Her conclusion is long and in depth and goes into many technical reasons, but in a nutshell the answer is yes.

"The planned partnership between Sprint and Clearwire shows how cooperation can be more beneficial to the market than competition," she wrote.

A lengthy description goes into how both companies have a lot of spectrum -- the airwaves that the service will travel on -- but that they'll need them if they plan to offer a speedy service with lots of bandwidth to many customers.

"Cooperation enables both operators to deploy a more robust network that supports better performance and to do so in a cost effective way while also developing a combined footprint that is more attractive to subscribers and wholesale partners."

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September 18, 2007 10:26 AM

Clearwire modems in Seattle

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire has begun selling PC cards to let Seattle customers access its broadband service without having to lug around a modem, according to InfoWorld.

The card will easily fit into a laptop, bypassing the modem, which has to be plugged into an outlet.

According to InfoWorld, anyone can visit a Clearwire store in the Seattle area and sign up for the portable service. After rebates, the PC card, made by Motorola, costs $80. Monthly service costs $60 (compared with the $42 charge for the bulky modem) and offers 1.5Mbps download speed.

I reported in August that Clearwire was going to start testing the PC card in a few unspecified markets. It makes sense to test it on their home turf.

At the time, the company also said it will test in the same markets a faster residential connection speed at 2 megabits per second (Mbps), bursting up to 4 mbps, for $44.99 a month (that compares with 1.5 Mbps and 3 Mbps for the top-speed plan).

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September 13, 2007 10:46 AM

Clearwire launches in Spain

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire, which is building wireless broadband networks worldwide, said today that it launched a network for the first time in Spain.

Spain marks Clearwire's third international market. The Kirkland-based company, started by wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw, also has networks in Ireland and Belgium, and through joint partnerships in Denmark and Mexico.

In Spain, Clearwire chose Seville, the Andalusian capital, as its first market. The service is called Instant Internet, or Instanet. In Seville, Clearwire will cover more than 300,000 households and 850,000 residents.

The release talks up the benefit of Clearwire's set-up requirements, which eliminate the "hassles or delays of traditional ADSL services." Clearwire requires no software installations or visits to the home.

Clearwire is directing people in Spain to the Web site at www.clearwire.es/, where the tagline for "instanet" is "the internet without telephone lines." In addition, it says imagine having access to the Internet and being able to surf within one hour.

Clearwire sounds like it is trying to appeal to people who have had a hard time working with the telephone company, and providing better customer service.

The Spanish network is still using the older version of wireless broadband, and not mobile WiMax, which will be the standard going forward.

WiMax will be the focus of a trade show starting in two weeks in Chicago. Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff will keynote at WiMax World on Sept. 27, on the topic of "Clearwire's vision for WiMax Mobile Broadband."

UPDATE: Wolff will no longer be Clearwire's keynote at the event due to a scheduling conflict. Taking his place will be Scott Richardson, Clearwire's chief strategy officer. His talk will give an update on Clearwire's progress and go into examples of how people will use mobile WiMax, also being called personal broadband.

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September 10, 2007 4:21 PM

Clearwire partners with ICO

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire, the Kirkland-based company that is helping to build a nationwide wireless broadband network using WiMax, said today it is partnering with ICO Global Communications, a satellite company.

The joint agreement will include collaborating on mobile video trials -- starting early next year in Raleigh, N.C. ICO is also planning a similar trial in Las Vegas, Nev.

Although ICO is based in Reston, Va., it has very close ties to Clearwire.

For starters, its human resources and finance office is based in Kirkland, near Clearwire. Also, Clearwire founder and Chairman Craig McCaw is an investor and the chairman of ICO's board. Overall, the company's board includes some of the top executives from Clearwire's ranks, including Gerard Salemme, a Clearwire executive vice president, and Ben Wolff, Clearwire's CEO.

The press release issued today said the collaboration between the two will test connecting wireless broadband and satellite TV, allowing for interactive mobile video -- something that is gaining attention as wireless and entertainment worlds start to merge. People are starting to look at how joint relationships could be more valuable than just combining mobile and TV on one bill (I explored that topic in this story on the so-called triple and quadruple play).

"Our next generation wireless personal broadband networks are built to deliver data, voice and video over a single network," said Scott Richardson, Clearwire's chief strategy officer. He said it makes sense to work with ICO to test "an interactive mobile video element" that can add to Cleawire's offerings in areas where it doesn't plan to build its nework, while also enhancing the use of infrastructure and spectrum where the coverage overlaps.

Tim Bryan, ICO's CEO also weighed in by saying, "We are well positioned to be the first provider of next-generation mobile satellite services, and we have a clearly differentiated offering by leveraging integrated satellite and terrestrial networks to deliver advanced consumer mobility services."

Who knows exactly what the trial will look like for users, but the company said ICO will provide multiple TV channels to "large-screen user devices."

Alcatel-Lucent will supply the system architecture and design based on mobile multimedia DVB-SH (an open standard, unlike Qualcomm's MediaFlo mobile TV proprietary technology, which is used by Verizon Wireless and others). Hughes Network Systems will provide the device as well as interactive elements.

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August 27, 2007 12:09 PM

Google can manage a wireless network

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Ever since Google showed interest in participating in the next auction selling airwaves for a wireless network, the Internet giant has received a fair amount of skepticism.

But take this into account: Google's Mountain View, Calif. Wi-Fi network is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Where many telecom companies and others haven't been able to get Wi-Fi networks up and running on a reliable basis, perhaps Google has.

On its anniversary, it provided a few data points. It said 400 Wi-Fi routers cover 12 square miles and 25,000 homes. Google said about 15,000 unique users connect to the network each month, and since the beginning of this year, traffic has grown almost 10 percent each month.

Google used this anniversary to get across two messages. The first is why it built the network. It says it is into promoting alternative platforms for people to access the Web because many people still don't have access.

Second, Google said that if it can do it, surely EarthLink and San Francisco can figure out how to roll out a citywide network. The two have been working on a plan for some time to blanket the whole city, but without showing much progress.

It's also worth asking where else Google is headed in the wireless world. There are rumors floating around that the company has developed a Gphone that will launch next month. The Business Standard reported that the phone's launch will come with a financial committment of $7 billion to $8 billion.


Google also has said it earmarked a minimum of $4.6 billion for the spectrum auction in January if the FCC would approve a number of Google's proposals. The FCC did not approve all of them, however Google said it still might participate.

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August 20, 2007 1:54 PM

Spectrum auction date set

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The FCC has set a date for the upcoming airwave auction that has generated quite a bit of debate over the past few months as Google and others push to change the way wireless networks operate.

The spectrum, considered valuable for providing wireless broadband Internet access, will be auctioned off startng Jan. 16, 2008. The FCC is also seeking opinions on how it has chosen to sell off the spectrum.

I wrote a story last week explaining what's going on, here's an excerpt:

Q: What is at issue?

A: For any company or organization to operate a wireless service, it needs access to a sliver of airwaves, or so-called "spectrum," much of which is controlled by the federal government. The FCC will conduct an auction in January to sell rights to a swath of the spectrum that's ideal for providing wireless broadband services. Technically, that swath is the 700 megahertz band.

The spectrum will become available after television companies vacate airwaves they don't need as they convert to digital or high-definition television. That deadline is Feb. 17, 2009.

Q: What is Google asking for?

A: Google and other companies, including Frontline Wireless of Greensboro, N.C., proposed to the FCC that a portion of the spectrum being sold in January should be set aside for an "open access" network, one that would allow consumers to choose the device and applications they want regardless of whether a network operator has approved them.

This auction is quite significant. The FCC is estimating that the spectrum is worth $10.1 billion.

The FCC came up with that number by taking into account another recent auction, called Advanced Wireless Services (or AWS-1). The agency said in a document released today that comparing that sale with the upcoming one is fair, but that the 700 MHz band is better:

For instance, spectrum in the 700 MHz Band possesses superior propagation characteristics to AWS-1 spectrum. In addition, as of February 18, 2009, the 700 MHz Band spectrum will be unencumbered, while full access to AWS-1 spectrum requires the relocation of both Government and commercial incumbent users. Thus, other factors aside, 700 MHz Band licenses with comparable geographic service areas and bandwidth should have a higher market value than AWS-1 licenses.

If you remember, Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA was big participant in the AWS auction. It spent more than $4 billion, doubling its spectrum holdings in the top 100 markets.

In a news conference last October, T-Mobile detailed plans to start building out a 3G network on its new spectrum. It said at the time that it intended to provide the service commercially in mid-2007, and that most markets will have 3G by 2008.

Rumors have circulated that T-Mobile is getting ready to turn a few markets on soon.

CrunchGear is reporting that T-Mobile's first 3G device, also called a UMTS phone, will go on sale starting Sept. 10. At that time, it will be interesting to see what products T-Mobile will be selling to justify the higher-speed network.

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August 17, 2007 3:07 PM

Sprint Nextel's YouTube message

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint Nextel announced Thursday that the brand name for its new WiMax service will be called Xohm (pronounced "Zoam").

And because Sprint is partnering with Kirkland-based Clearwire to build a nationwide network, the two companies will share that name.

In my story today, I talked about how Sprint unveiled the name first to employees in a short video that has now been posted on YouTube.

The video features Atish Gude, Sprint's senior vice president of mobile broadband operations, and Barry West, Sprint's chief technology officer. Both are casually dressed in jeans and polo shirts.

Check it out:

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August 15, 2007 1:02 PM

DirecTV tunes into powerline broadband

Posted by Tricia Duryee

DirecTV said today that it signed a wholesale agreement with Current Group to provide high-speed Internet service over electric-power lines, according to The Wall Street Journal..

The story said DirecTV will bundle Current's broadband and voice over Internet services under the DirecTV brand.

The satellite TV company also recently announced a partnership with Kirkland-based Clearwire to bundle its wireless high-speed Internet access with DirecTV's TV service. In addition, it also resells Internet access from AT&T, Verizon Communications and Qwest Communications.

DirecTV has lined up all these partnerships to better compete with telephone and cable operators that have started to provide the quadruple play -- that means, bundling together TV, phone, wireless phone and Internet access. Obviously, it's not placing any bets on any one technology.

High-speed Internet access is not technically possible over satellite, or at least the way DirecTV provides service today.

Broadband over power lines is a fairly new technology that allows customers to plug a modem device the size of a cellphone into an electric outlet and connect a cable from their computer for Internet access.

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August 15, 2007 12:41 PM

Sprint's WiMax plans -- hard to say.

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Tomorrow I'll be listening to a 7 a.m. investor conference call conducted by Sprint Nextel to learn more about its WiMax plans, and specifically about its new partnership with Kirkland-based Clearwire.

But in advance of that, Engadget reported on a rumor regarding what Sprint might be calling its WiMax service.

Sprint reportedly will name the service -- to be launched later this year -- XOHM.

I know ... it's hard to say how that will be pronounced.

The struggle with building a partnership between Clearwire and Sprint Nextel was how to brand it so that the two each keep their unique identities while also making clear to customers that they can move from one network to another.

The answer was that the two were going to come up with a common "ingredient" brand that would sort of sit inside the companies' two products. I imagine this is similar to the Intel Inside campaigns, where Intel's brand is inside a Dell or Toshiba computer.

Stay tuned to hear more.

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August 10, 2007 12:48 PM

Clearwire to buy part of Amp'd Mobile?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Two online publications are reporting today that Clearwire will acquire about 50 employees from Amp'd Mobile's content division out of its bankruptcy proceedings to build out an offering for the Kirkland company's upcoming mobile WiMax network.

The move would be really interesting because Clearwire to date has been a network company -- and its founders, led by Craig McCaw, have all been network people.

Clearwire declined to comment on whether the rumors were true; phone calls to Amp'd and to Amp'd's bankruptcy attorney went unanswered,

For now, who knows if it is true?

RCR Wireless said that reportedly Clearwire has reached a deal, but it didn't quote a single source.

MocoNews.net reported that the transaction has taken place, adding that Amp'd Mobile's founder and former CEO Peter Adderton and most of management for its content team "are close to joining" Clearwire.

It further said, the team moving to Clearwire includes Seth Cummings, Amp'd's former secnior vice president of content, who is the current executive producer of "Lil Bush on Comedy Central." MocoNews said that Cummings had already changed his LinkedIn profile to reflect the move, but a check of the site lists him simply as a media and entertainment consultant.

Sprint Nextel, which is also rolling out a WiMax network, announced recently that it was going to work with Google to build a portal for the wireless broadband service.

Perhaps Clearwire was looking for an equivalent content partnership.

Roger Entner, an analyst at IAG Research, said he hadn't heard the deal was completed, but that it would make sense for Clearwire to start beefing up its content initiatives if a service and new devices were going to be available during the first half of next year.

Entner disagreed that it may be an equivalent to the Sprint Nextel and Google announcement.

"I'm not sure if they'd use the team to do a portal. More likely it's more for dedicated content that may or may not be tailored to whatever device that would be used," he said. "The Google thing -- that's a pretty vanilla portal, similar to an Internet portal. To me, the important thinkg that says is that they have the search and advertising piece. That's implied by that."

Regardless, the market seems to be responding positively to the potential pair. The company's stock, which dropped significantly after it reported a wider than expected second-quarter loss, gained about 5 percent today, or $1.20 to $27 a share in late afternoon trading.

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August 7, 2007 10:15 AM

Clearwire falls after Q2 earnings

Posted by Tricia Duryee

After reporting second-quarter results late Monday, Clearwire's stock declined significantly this morning.

In trading today, it fell to as low as $23.65 a share from a previous close of $29.52. It rebounded slightly trading at around $25.29, or down $4.23, around mid-day.

In today's story, we reported that Clearwire increased revenues 32.4 percent to $35.5 million compared with the same period a year ago -- beating analyst expectations of $33.3 million, according to Thomson Financial. But the company showed a loss of $118 million, or 72 cents a share, much wider than the 59 cents analysts expected.

In reaction to yesterday's results, the AP reported that two analysts downgraded the stock.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King cut his rating to "hold" from "buy," noting shares rose past his $27 target price. King also said despite the progress the company showed during the quarter, the stock has few reasons to rise in the coming months, especially given jittery market sentiments.

Pali Research analyst Walter Piecyk also cut his rating, to "neutral" from "buy," saying the quarterly results were below his expectations.

In contrast, Jonathan Schildkraut, an analyst at Jefferies, which acted as co-manager in Clearwire's initial public offering, maintained his "hold" and a price target of $34 a share.

Schidkraut said that results were largely in line with expectations. "Significantly, CLWR's original 25 markets demonstrated continued scaling, with the group producing gross margins of 75% and achieving positive EBITDA," he said.

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August 2, 2007 1:37 PM

Clearwire turns on three more cities

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire said today it started providing its wireless broadband service in Dayton, Ohio.

On Wednesday, the Kirkland company, which is building out a national network, said it launched service in Syracuse, N.Y. and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Recently, the company agreed to partner with Sprint Nextel to speed up the deployment of WiMax by splitting up the towns and cities that the two companies will cover.

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July 26, 2007 1:22 PM

Clearwire's Nick Kauser retires

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire, the Kirkland company that is building a nationwide wireless broadband network, said today that Chief Technology Officer Nick Kauser is retiring effective Aug. 1.


Clearwire

Nick Kauser

John Saw, the company's vice president of engineering, will step into the CTO position.

Kauser helped Craig McCaw start Clearwire and, in many ways, could be considered one of the earliest pioneers of wireless broadband technology.

Kauser held several positions at McCaw Cellular Communications, which later became AT&T Wireless. As chief technology officer there, he oversaw engineering and technology projects, network operations, long-range planning and evolution of the network, and support for network technologies.

While at AT&T Wireless, Kauser headed the company's fixed wireless initiative, called Project Angel. That could be considered the roots of what Clearwire has become today.

Said Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff:

"We're extremely grateful for the leadership and guidance Nick has provided over the years and are fortunate to be able to keep drawing from his wisdom as a member of our board. Clearwire has and will continue to benefit from his foresight in realizing the potential impact of a personal broadband network that is always on and always with the person."

Kauser, 67, will remain a member of Clearwire's board and will continue to advise the company on its international operations. He will also remain a principal of Eagle River, the investment arm of McCaw's operations.


Clearwire

John Saw

Saw, who will replace Kauser, has been with the company since it was founded in 2003, and was the chief architect in laying the foundation for Clearwire's network.

He has almost 20 years of experience in developing wireless networks and architectures, including stints at Netro (now SR Telecom) and at AT&T Wireless, where he worked under Kauser.

"John is truly a visionary when it comes to wireless broadband networks," Wolff said. "His innovative spirit and wealth of knowledge of wireless broadband networks will be invaluable as Clearwire continues to evolve and innovate in wireless broadband."

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July 26, 2007 11:14 AM

Sprint partners with Google

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint Nextel said today that it will develop a mobile Internet portal for its high-speed wireless WiMax network with Google, according to a Reuters story in The Washington Post.

The portal will offer Web services such as search, e-mail, chat and social networking.

In a press release, Barry West, Sprint's president of mobile broadband said:

Google and Sprint will optimize the Internet experience for the digital lifestyle. This collaboration brings what will be the best mobile Internet network together with the leading Internet search company. It allows us to capitalize on the powerful mobility and Internet trends, and create wireless services and applications that take advantage of each company's history of product development innovation.

Last week, Sprint Nextel and Kirkland-based Clearwire said they would combine their efforts to build one nationwide network instead of two competing ones.

The partnership with Google is interesting because the search giant recently has been causing quite a stir in the telecom world by pushing the FCC to require the next block of spectrum to be auctioned off to be an open network.

Today, telecom operators are the ones that approve handsets and applications to be used on the phone. In the proposal by Google, and so far somewhat supported by the FCC, a user would be able to use any device and any application.

The WiMax network that Sprint and Clearwire are building is more similar to an open network model than a telecom model.

In the press release, Sprint gives a little more detail on how the WiMax network would look.

Sprint said it will provide open standard coding, or APIs, to partners and the developer community to create new products for devices, including modem cards, stand-alone modems, laptops and personal media players, mobile Internet devices, gaming devices and phones.

Eventually, Sprint said WiMax will be available for cars to use for navigation, news and entertainment.

Commercial service is expected to be available in a number of markets starting in April 2008 and cover 100 million people by the end of 2008 through the Clearwire partnership.

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July 19, 2007 6:16 AM

Clearwire signs big pact with Sprint Nextel

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire, the company founded by wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw, has partnered up with its rival Sprint Nextel to build a nationwide mobile broadband network using the emerging WiMax technology.

The partnership, announced this morning and outlined in a letter of intent , is expected to be finalized in the next two months. The deal will be subject to review by the Department of Justice.

The two companies said with the partnership they would be able to build the network faster, providing online access to consumers, businesses and even the federal government for public safety use.

Since 2003, Clearwire has been working to build a nationwide network by quietly acquiring airwaves for wireless broadband and raising millions of dollars through private placements, public offerings and debt.

About a year ago, Sprint Nextel also announced its intent to build a nationwide WiMax network. Today, Clearwire is operating a proprietary wireless broadband network in 39 U.S. cities (to about 258,000 customers, which includes networks abroad), and Sprint Nextel expects to get an initial handful of markets by the end of the year.

Both companies have faced skepticism for the role that the new networks will play in the daily lives of consumers and corporate customers, especially as cellphone companies expand their own high-speed networks, called 3G.

"Our companies share a vision of doing for the Internet what cellular and PCS networks did for voice communications starting more than 20 years ago," Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff said. "Based on this shared vision and the expected benefits to each company and our respective shareholders and customers, it is natural that we would work together."

In the deal, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire expect to build out a portion of the nationwide network and enable roaming between their two systems. Sprint Nextel covers the more populated areas, potentially reaching up to 185 million people, or about 75 percent of the population in the 50 largest markets. Clearwire is focusing on areas covering about 115 million people. The two companies expect to be able to cover about 100 million people by the end of next year.

The companies also said today that they will work jointly on product and service evolution, shared infrastructure, branding, marketing and distribution. They also intend to exchange selected airwaves in the 2.5 GHz spectrum band. Spectrum license transfers must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

What's interesting is the deal goes fairly deep. The two will market the service under one brand, and Clearwire will be able to bundle 3G service from Sprint Nextel to its customers. The initial partnership is for 20 years with three 10-year renewal periods.

For people familiar with Craig McCaw, Clearwire's founder and chairman, this sounds like another venture he did not too long ago.

When he was reorganizing Nextel Communications into a cellular company, he helped to start Kirkland-based Nextel Partners, a company responsible for rolling out in rural and smaller markets, freeing Nextel Communications to focus on the larger cities.

That idea is not foreign to Sprint, which bought Nextel Communications, and later was obligated to buy the smaller affiliate Nextel Partners. The two-company approach to market -- at least in the case of Nextel -- had a lot of benefits. It allowed Nextel to move faster, while also providing better customer service. It also gave two companies independent access to the public markets.

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July 11, 2007 11:38 AM

Clearwire entering Taiwan?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire may partner with Taiwan's Pan Overseas to create a joint venture that would invest in building out a WiMax broadband network in Taiwan, according to StreetInsider.com.

Looks like the rumor, which is showing up in a number of online newsletters, originates from a Commercial Times report on Monday that cited unnamed sources.

According to StreetInsider, the paper also cited a Pan Overseas official as saying the company has been in contact with Clearwire and Motorola, but declined to elaborate.

Pan Overseas is one of 13 Taiwanese companies that has applied for a WiMax license on the island. By the end of the month, the government is expected to award six WiMax licenses, lasting six years each.

Clearwire's stock is up 13 cents to $24.15 in afternoon trading.

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July 10, 2007 11:28 AM

Spectrum auction update

Posted by Tricia Duryee

There's already an update to my Monday post on the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction for wireless broadband technology.

In a nutshell, a company called Frontline Wireless is arguing that because existing wireless networks are owned big giants, competition has been stifled. Entrepreneurs can't easily get their applications and equipment to run on these networks and, because of this, they are inherently slower to develop.

Well, it sounds like FCC Chairman Kevin Martin may agree.

USA Today reported that Martin is expected to propose ground-breaking rules accompanying the spectrum to be auctioned off early next year. The goal would be to allow consumers to have more choice.

From the story, quoting Martin:

"Whoever wins this spectrum has to provide ... truly open broadband network -- one that will open the door to a lot of innovative services for consumers."

What this would mean in practice: "You can use any wireless device and download any mobile broadband application, with no restrictions," Martin explained. The only exceptions would be software that is illegal or could harm a network.

The CTIA wireless trade association issued a statement that took particular offense to a statement in the article that said very few phones had Wi-Fi today -- an example on how things were not moving very fast.

"Contrary to what was reported in the media, many wireless providers are offering Wi-Fi-enabled devices, and consumers are purchasing and using those devices across the country, not just at company-branded hotspots. In fact, wireless consumers today have access to more than 700 different wireless handsets," said CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent.

So the question is, will it make the spectrum less valuable (and, therefore, less expensive) if the rules to make it more open are implemented?

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA argue that they get to dictate the traffic, the services and the handsets because they took on the risk and the cost to build out the network.

Will companies still be willing to pay top dollar for this spectrum? Will they still be able to make a return in this more open environment?

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July 5, 2007 3:04 PM

McCaws flying home from Austria

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Susan McCaw, the U.S. ambassador to Austria and wife of wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw said this week she will resign from her post by the end of the year.

Susan McCaw told President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Austrian government about her decision to leave and that it was for personal reasons, according to a press release.

"She would like to end her assignment as ambassador to Austria toward the end of this year," the release said. "The exact date of her departure has not yet been determined."

McCaw, who will have served for about two years by year's end, described her time in Austria as "remarkable and rewarding," and that it was also "a great honor to serve as the president's representative to Austria, this wonderful and dynamic country."

This report in an Austrian paper has a slideshow of McCaw photos, including one that pictures Susan McCaw standing next to Craig along with their three young children. There's also a story here (in German).

Craig McCaw is the chairman and founder of Clearwire; he also founded McCaw Cellular Communications, which later became AT&T Wireless before it was purchased by Cingular (now AT&T).

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June 28, 2007 3:27 PM

Clearwire's grows in Texas

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire made two announcements over the past two days.

On Wednesday, the Kirkland-based company said it would start selling VoIP phone service in six new markets in Texas: Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, Waco and Wichita Falls.

Today, Clearwire said it is offering its flagship wireless broadband Internet service in Longview, Texas.

Clearwire now operates in about 39 markets in 13 states.

The company's stock briefly reached its initial public offering price of $25, closing on Wednesday at $25.01, up $1.07 a share. That didn't last long, however. The stock closed today at $24.23, down 78 cents a share. In after hours trading, it continued to slide.

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June 20, 2007 4:55 PM

Clearwire in NXTcomm's spotlight

Posted by Tricia Duryee

NXTcomm, a telecom and entertainment conference taking place in Chicago this week, has recognized Kirkland-based Clearwire for its achievements.

Today, the group announced Clearwire the winner of the Spotlight Award, an award signifying the "best of" the 2007 NXTcomm Eos Excellence of Achievement Awards.

The award was judged by members of the media (not including me!). Of all the Eos award winners, the Spotlight award additionally honors the company that has developed the most promising new technology or provided the best new network services and strategic support.

The press release said Clearwire was selected as the winner for "its wireless high-speed Internet service that is simple, fast, portable, reliable and affordable."

Eos Award winners were honored for best new technology or enterprise solution in 12 categories covering the range of wireless, broadband, and next-generation technologies and services for both public and enterprise networks.

Here's a complete list of Eos winners.

Interestingly enough, XO Communications, another company that was once led by Craig McCaw, also won an award. It was honored for its wired network. XO has been reorganized after going through bankruptcy proceedings.

Microsoft also won an award for its Connected Services Sandbox.

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June 20, 2007 10:26 AM

Clearwire Q&A in Forbes

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Here's a short interview Forbes conducted with Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff.

The one interesting thing to check out, perhaps, is his comments on the upcoming spectrum auction. I talked briefly with Wolff last week about it and he said Clearwire wasn't taking a stance on it.

As taken from the text of the article....

Q: The FCC is about to decide on rules for a prime band of spectrum that could help Clearwire and other third-party providers create a "third" pipe to challenge the dominance of cable and DSL in high-speed Internet. What is Clearwire's position on the auction and do you plan to participate?

A: The rules haven't even been set yet. Without the rules being set it's up in the air in terms of what blocks and channel sizes will be available. We haven't made a firm decision one way or the other whether we will participate in the auction. We think it's more useful in rural areas than urban areas. The wave form travels at longer distances at those lower frequencies and you have the potential to create self interference.

Q: Have you offered any comments on the proposals?

A: We haven't really weighed in. It's interesting to see people talk about another network, because we're building it today. I don't understand all the political fervor of another network being built. We have been doing it for three years.

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June 19, 2007 2:04 PM

WiMax report shows healthy adoption

Posted by Tricia Duryee

A report released today said 54 million WiMax subscribers are expected worldwide by 2012.

The report, released by Senza Fili Consulting in Sammamish, said the number includes both fixed and mobile subscribers.

Of the 54 million, the report said about 17 million will be in the U.S., bucking the trend that most of the adoption will occur in developing countries.

Monica Paolini, the president of Senza, said most of the people who will be interested in WiMax are those who don't currently have access to DSL or cable broadband services.

She said the U.S. is one developed nation that is likely to see faster adoption. Even though there are DSL and cable options here today, so far there's been comparatively low broadband adoption, compared with other developed countries in Europe and parts of Asia. She said generally that is because broadband is more expensive and slower here. Plus, both Clearwire and Sprint Nextel are committing to rolling out nationwide networks here.

"For a developed country, we are under provisioned. There's more of an opportunity here from that point of view, it's very much a data-oriented society. People use laptops a lot," Paolini said.

By 2012, she said 61 percent of WiMax subscribers will use the technology for mobile access. A third of them will also use WiMAX as a fixed-access technology.


Senza Fili Consulting

Estimates show that there could be 54 million WiMax subscribers by 2012.

Compared with the 230 million U.S. wireless phone subscribers, and the millions more who have broadband Internet access, that may not seem like much. But Paolini said a better comparison to WiMax is 3G, or high-speed wireless Internet access through AT&T, Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel. After four or five years on the market, they each have only hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

She said by 2012, WiMax could end up being a bigger opportunity than 3G. That's because it's likely to be installed in more than laptops. There are plans to install it in small electronics such as handheld video game devices and cameras.

"If you have technology that basically serves only laptops, it's a very different business case," she said. "Only so many people are willing to go around with laptops."

Asked whether Clearwire and Sprint Nextel should be happy sharing 17 million subcribers by 2012, Paolini said: "I think they should be very happy if they can get to that type of usage."

Today, Clearwire has 285,000 subscribers using a pre-WiMax network in about 35 cities in the U.S. and a handful of cities in Europe.

UPDATE: For the sake of comparison, I asked Robert Syputa, a senior analyst from Marvedis for his forecast. He said, according to a report from December 2006, they are expecting 100 million WiMax subscribers worldwide in their optimistic scenario. (In case you are curious, his pessimistic scenario expects only about 21 million by 2012. Note: In that case, he's not counting subscribers but number of CPEs (customer premises equipment), or essentially the number of modems).

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June 14, 2007 10:03 AM

Sprint's latest WiMax plans

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The WSJ is reporting that Sprint Nextel is exploring new options for financing its plans to build a national WiMax wireless broadband network. The options may include forming a partnership or joint venture with Craig McCaw's Clearwire, or seeking an infusion of cash from cable providers.

In addition, Clearwire separately announced today that it formed a distribution agreement with DirecTV and EchoStar Communications to resell each other's products and services.

The WSJ, quoting "people familiar with the matter," said the options Sprint are considering an effort to make investors less concerned about the cost of the WiMax plan.

So far, Sprint has committed to spending about $3 billion through next year to build a network that will offer high-speed wireless Internet access to 100 million people.

One deal supposedly under consideration would be to spin off Sprint's WiMax unit as part of a deal with Clearwire, the WSJ said people familiar with the matter said. The two sides have had discussions in recent months.

A partnership between the two would not be completely out of the question if you look at the many ties that McCaw has had with Sprint Nextel in the past. McCaw previously controlled Nextel Communications, a company he helped rebuild to become the fifth largest carrier in the U.S. before Sprint purchased it. Nextel had extremely close ties to Motorola, which made Nextel's special push-to-talk services. It is Motorola that purchased Clearwire's WiMax equipment subsidiary, and now has a very close relationship with Clearwire and Sprint.

I talked to Ben Wolff, Clearwire's CEO, briefly this morning. He declined to comment on all of the above.

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June 14, 2007 9:45 AM

Clearwire teams up with EchoStar/DirecTV

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire announced that it has signed distribution agreements with DirecTV and EchoStar Communications.

The agreements allow both satellite companies to offer Clearwire's high-speed Internet service to their customers. In return, Clearwire will be able to offer the video services of one or both satellite companies to its customers.

The bottom line is that in markets where Clearwire operates, all three companies will be able to bundle together, TV, high-speed Internet access and voice services, as a competitor to both cable and telecom companies.

The launch is planned for later this year.

"We're pleased to partner with these two satellite companies as they both share our commitment to offering a superior customer experience by enabling customers to enjoy the benefits of unwired services," said Perry Satterlee, Clearwire's president and chief operating officer. "By expanding the reach of our services through DIRECTV and EchoStar, and by incorporating direct-to-home satellite video services in our own distribution channels, we believe we have an opportunity to significantly expand our business opportunity."

Still, this announcement doesn't address whether a deeper relationship is brewing among the three companies. At one point, it was heavily rumored that one of the satellite companies, or both, would make a substantial investment in Clearwire.

In early morning trading, Clearwire's stock jumped $3.17, or 15.95 percent to $23.04 a share.

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June 13, 2007 2:33 PM

Clearwire's D.C. appearance

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff addressed one of the largest crowds ever at the Wireless Communications Association's annual Washington D.C. convention today.

He said in a phone call following his speech that from his recollection it was one of the most well-attended WCA conference ever. About 1,200 people registered and he said 20 to 30 percent more were expected to walk in.

Wolff said he drew a lot of parallels in his keynote speech between what Clearwire is doing for the WiMax industry and what McCaw Cellular Communications did for the cellular industry in 1987 when it went public.

"When you look at how many subscribers they had and how many people their spectrum covered, and what analysts were saying back then, there are some interesting similarities," he said. "We are doing for the Internet what cellular did for voice."

Wireless Week wrote about the speech, reporting that Wolff said that of Clearwire's customers, 40 percent came from cable, 29 percent were coming from DSL and 27 percent from dial-up. The numbers add up to more than 100 percent, he said, because some customers subscribe to more than one type of broadband access.

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June 11, 2007 1:50 PM

A new Cleawire competitor?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

To date, Kirkland-based Clearwire offers wireless broadband service to consumers as an alternative to DSL or cable in more than 35 U.S. markets, and Sprint Nextel is on its way to serving even more customers.

But DigitalBridge Communications and Alvarion sort of trumped both today by announcing at the WCA 2007, a annual wireless convention in Washington, D.C., that they have launched a network in Rexburg, Idaho.

The network is supposedly using true WiMax equipment (Alvarion's BreezeMAX 802.16e platform), rather than the proprietary equipment used by Clearwire. That makes it one of the first commercial WiMax networks in the country.

The service is expected to reach more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Rexburg and the surrounding areas, with plans to extend service coverage in Southeast Idaho and Montana in the coming months. Service plans deliver speeds up to 3 Mbps and subscribers are able to connect anywhere in the DigitalBridge service area by taking their modem with them.

The service, although claiming to be WiMax, still doesn't sound truly mobile -- which is the ultimate promise of the technology. It is continually described on the company's Web site and in the press release">press release as being nomadic or portable. It's also unclear what the modem looks like. On the Web site, DigitalBridge said it must be plugged in a computer and an electrical outlet, which I'm guessing would make it a separate device, rather than a laptop card.

Today, Clearwire service is considered portable because it must be plugged in to the wall and a computer (and would fit into a briefcase, but not a purse). Clearwire offers service up to 1.5 mbps, or slightly slower.

DigitalBridge did not disclose its prices on its Web site without a potential user's Rexburg address. But after entering the Rexburg's Chamber of Commerce information, this is what I found out.

-- For 2 Mbps, you pay $29.99 a month plus $3.99 a month modem rental fee (signing a one-year contract will save you $60).

-- For 3 Mbps, it's $39.99 a month plus a $3.99 a month for a modem rental fee (signing an annual contract will save you $60).

That's a better deal than what Clearwire is offering.

-- For 1.5 mbps, it's $36.99 a month for a two-year subscription (the first three months are discounted to save $50). This plan is also available on a month-to-month basis for $50 a month.

-- For 768 Kbps, it's $29.99 a month for a two-year subscription (the first three months are discounted to save $80).

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June 6, 2007 11:25 AM

Towerstream raises more $$

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Middletown, R.I.-based Towerstream, which provides non-mobile WiMax service to businesses, said today that it will raise about $40 million by selling 10 million shares at $4 each to investors.

"We have spoken with many investors who understand the value of our WiMAX business. We believe that there is a growing interest in the future of WiMAX and our position in the WiMAX marketplace. The proceeds from this offering will provide us with the capital to build out our target markets and solidify our position as a WiMAX leader" said Jeff Thompson, Towerstream's president and CEO.

The company, which is listed on the over-the-counter market, said the offering is expected to close on June 11.

Towerstream offers service in Seattle after buying a network from Seattle-based Speakeasy, which was recently purchased by Best Buy.

GigaOM, the technology blogger, said in a posting today the ability for Towerstream to raise money can be attributed to Kirkland-based Clearwire.

"The buzz around Craig McCaw's Clearwire and WiMAX has been the kind of boost tiny Towerstream has been looking for. It had been selling fixed wireless services to businesses for a while and had made a nice living following the time tested business philosophy of organic growth. (Read: Last Mover Advantage) Of course, that meant not many paid much attention to them, and turning a profit was hard."

In trading this morning, Towerstream's stock dropped $2.02 or 34.4 percent to $3.85 a share.

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June 5, 2007 4:16 PM

Craig McCaw honored by SDForum

Posted by Tricia Duryee

SDForum, an emerging technology association in the Silicon Valley, has named Clearwire founder and wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw as one of the recipients of its 10th annual Visionary Awards.

This year's theme was: "Mobile, Media and Entertainment."

Each year SDForum honors industry leaders who have pioneered innovation and fostered a spirit of entrepreneurship. Former visionaries include Lou Gerstner, Bill Gates, Doug Engelbart, John Chambers, Gordon Moore, Ray Ozzie and Vint Cerf.

In addition to Craig McCaw, three others were named and will be honored during a private ceremony June 20.

The others were:

-- Trip Hawkins, chairman and CEO of Digital Chocolate, which creates mobile phone games and social applications.

-- Michael Moritz, who focuses on software and services investments at Sequoia Capital. Before joining Sequoia in 1986, he worked in a variety of positions at
Time Warner and was a Founder of Technologic Partners.

-- Walt Mossberg, who writes a weekly personal technology column in the Wall Street Journal. He also co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major
high-tech conference that this year brought Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage for a joint interview.

The awards ceremony is held at a private home and is sponsored by Deloitte, Microsoft, Nokia, DLA Piper and Nasdaq.

Here's a list of all the former winners.

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June 5, 2007 1:25 PM

Clearwire expands in Virginia/Belgium

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire said today it has launched high-speed wireless Internet access in Richmond,Va., and Ghent, Belgium.

The service, which is similar to DSL speeds, uses a proprietary version of the emerging WiMax technology.

Richmond will be the first city in Virginia to have Clearwire service. In Belgium, Ghent makes the third market where service is available. It is also available in Brussels and Leuven.

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May 21, 2007 1:42 PM

RadioFrame Networks in today's paper

Posted by Tricia Duryee

I wrote a story today about Redmond-based RadioFrame Networks, one of a few in the Seattle area working on wireless infrastructure.

It is attempting to build a miniature cell site that will provide better indoor coverage inside homes and buildings.

It also address how Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA is tackling the problem -- by allowing phones to roam on to Wi-Fi networks.

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May 21, 2007 11:57 AM

Clearwire lifts hood on WiMax trial

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire said today it has successfully completed the first phase of one of the country's first mobile WiMAX field trials.

Mobile WiMax is the standardized version of wireless broadband that allows a user to roam or hand off from one cell site to another. The previous version of WiMax was called fixed because it had to be used in a stationary spot.

Clearwire has been conducting a field trail in Hilsboro, Ore., with Intel and Motorola. The equipment is based on the IEEE 802.16e standard and works on Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum.

The first phase of the field trial focused on coverage, capacity and speed associated with the air interface. Previously, Intel said it was going to open up the trial to employees in the area to get an idea of how it worked.

There aren't a lot of other companies pushing to roll out mobile WiMax quickly. Sprint Nextel, which also has ambitions to build a nationwide network, said it will start to launch markets later this year, starting in Chicago. It is critical for the trials to work since so many companies are backing the technology, which is still unproved.

Clearwire said today the first phase of the Hillsboro trial covered 15 square miles using a mobile WiMAX laptop card, the first to be based on WiMAX. Individuals testing the card received true broadband connections with multi-megabit speeds. The next phase of the trial is designed expand to cover 145 square miles and a greater number of users and devices on the network.

"The successful completion of the first phase of our mobile WiMAX trial is a significant milestone in our efforts to commercially deploy true mobile broadband services in the U.S.," said Scott Richardson, Clearwire chief strategy officer. "By demonstrating initial performance consistent with the WiMAX industry standards, we are making great progress in our ability to evolve our networks to take advantage of the benefits of a standards-based technology for future Clearwire subscribers.

Intel said the trial was also important because it means its mobile WiMax chipset is on pace to launch next year.

"With the completion of the first phase of our field trial we are on track to deliver the first integrated mobile WiMAX solution with next-generation Intel Centrino processor technology in 2008," said Sriram Viswanathan, an Intel vice president and general manager of the WiMAX Program Office. "We look forward to the next phase of our field trial that will include more people, wider coverage and greater mobility to ultimately help deliver the true promise of WiMAX."

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May 14, 2007 3:21 PM

Clearwire speaks to investors

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire gave last-minute notice today that CEO Ben Wolff will speak Tuesday at Morgan Stanley's 12th Annual Communications Conference in Washington, D.C.

He will speak at 6:45 a.m. at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. A live Webcast and replay of the session will be available on Clearwire's Web site.

I wrote recently about all of the appearances executives were making.

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May 10, 2007 12:35 PM

On Clearwire's Seattle network

Posted by Tricia Duryee

In the past two days, I've written two stories about Clearwire, one on Wednesday, when its first quarter financial report first came out, and one that ran today after I talked with management. One thing that didn't seem to fit into either is a status report on how sales are going in Seattle following its launch in November.

During the company's conference call Wednesday, President Perry Satterlee acknowledged that the sales in Seattle were bumpier than expected, and he attributed it to a sales technique the company was testing. (The company didn't disclose how many subscribers it has in Seattle.)

I asked the CEO Ben Wolff to elaborate on what that means in a follow-up conversation.

He said Clearwire typically has a comprehensive approach when launching in a new market that involves a direct sales force, its own retail stores, kiosks, indirect retail channels, big box retailers, the Internet and telephone sales.

"Our direct sales force is the most expensive cost per gross add, so we decided to try something different," Wolff said. "We wanted to see if we could bring it [the cost] down sooner by starting out of the gate with a smaller sales force, and relying on less expensive channels."

In that regard, it was a success.

"The cost of acquisition came down significantly -- that was very good for us -- but the trade-off was that we didn't add as many customers," he added.

Wolff said as a result, the company thinks it is a month or two behind expectations in Seattle.

"There's a balancing act in determining what's the best balance, cost vs. the opportunity to bringing on a customer," he said.

In the first quarter, the cost per gross add (or adding one more subscriber) was $343 each. In the same period a year ago, it was $361.

Wolff said Cleariwre has since decided to add additional sales people in Seattle.

"We are beefing up a bit. This continues to be something we learn and evolve with," he said. "There's nothing alarming, we just continue to turn the dials."

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May 9, 2007 10:55 AM

More on Clearwire's Q1 results

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire reported its first-quarter financial results last night at 9 p.m., just giving me enough time to get something in today's paper.

You can read the high-level results here.

Ten hours later, at 7 a.m. this morning, Clearwire executives talked with Wall Street analysts to discuss the results. That Webcast can be found here.

In general, Clearwire, which is working on building a nationwide WiMax network, sounded a little defensive based on concerns that it will have to raise more than a billion dollars more to make a significant dent in its plans.

It did a thorough job making a case for how fundraising and building a network from the ground up can be possible.

CEO Ben Wolff said the company's plan is to be able to reach 125 million customers in the next five years, but if need be , it can scale back that plan and reach profitability sooner.

John Butler, Clearwire's CFO, said to count on increasing expenses and losses for some time, but "they aren't any different than any predecessor wireless carriers."

Since the company's inception, it has raised $2 billion in capital and was able to raise $600 million in its public offering. It has $1.5 billion in cash and short-term investments.

"We have consistently demonstrated to have access to markets, and will tap that market soon for additional funding," Butler said.

Butler added that if the terms were not favorable, Clearwire can adjust its roll-out schedule, conserve cash and become profitable much sooner if it needed to.

Still, that argument didn't seem to sway the stock market. In early morning trading today, the company's stock continued to slide, decreasing 73 cents, or about 3.8 percent to $18.27 a share.

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May 3, 2007 12:11 PM

Clearwire expands AOL partnership

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is building out a nationwide wireless network, said today that AOL will resell the broadband service in all of Clearwire's existing and future markets.

Previously, AOL and Clearwire had a joint distribution agreement that covered four Clearwire markets -- Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, Fla., and Stockton and Modesto, Calif. Clearwire now serves 38 markets in U.S.

On Tuesday, Clearwire will report its first quarter earnings and discuss them during a investor conference call on Wednesday.

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April 26, 2007 12:03 PM

Clearwire pads speaking schedule

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff has been tapped to deliver the keynote address at the Wireless Communications Association International annual convention June 13 in Washington, D.C.

Clearwire said Wolff will discuss the company's experiences as it implements its vision of wireless high-speed Internet and personal broadband services.

On Wednesday, Clearwire said Chief Strategy Officer Scott Richardson will keynote at WiMax World Europe in Vienna.

Wondering if these apperances are attempts to lift the company's stock price?

Clearwire's stock has dropped dramatically recently over concerns that it will have to raise billions of dollars more to roll out a network. This afternoon the stock was trading up 18 cents to about $17.77 a share. The Kirkland company is scheduled to report first-quarter financial results on May 8.

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April 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Clearwire goes to Vienna

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire said today that the company's chief strategy officer, Scott Richardson, will speak at WiMAX World Europe in Vienna, Austria.

Richardson's talk is titled "Clearwire's Perspective on Global WiMAX Services," and is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. May 30.

Richardson joined Clearwire earlier this year from Intel. He is now in charge of the company's global mobile wireless broadband efforts.

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April 23, 2007 11:54 AM

Clearwire's TV plans

Posted by Tricia Duryee

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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April 23, 2007 11:54 AM

Clearwire's TV plans

Posted by Tricia Duryee

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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April 19, 2007 10:57 AM

Clearwire announces subcriber growth

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Following two dismal days of significant stock declines, Kirkland-based Clearwire issued a press release today saying it will release first-quarter financial results May 8.

It also pre-announced the number of subscribers it added in the first quarter, sending its stock upward.

Clearwire saw record subscriber growth in the quarter, adding more than 25 percent and ending the period with 258,000. Clearwire also said its consolidated subscriber churn was about 1.6 percent in the first quarter.

Most of the subscriber additions occurred in the U.S., ending the quarter with 232,000 customers in this country. The increase of 48,000 subscribers in the U.S. was also a company record, exceeding the approximately 40,000 subscribers added in the fourth quarter. Churn in the U.S. was about 1.5 percent in the first quarter.

At last check, the company's stock had increased almost a dollar to $17.40 a share. Remember that the company went public last month at $25 a share.

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April 17, 2007 10:25 AM

Clearwire's stock slips further

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire, which is planning to build a nationwide wireless broadband network based on WiMax technology, saw its stock slip more than 60 cents early today to less than $18 a share.

The Kirkland company, founded by wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw, went public only a month ago, raising $600 million by selling shares at $25 apiece.

The AP reported today that the stock slipped even as at least seven analysts initiated coverage of the wireless broadband network provider with positive ratings.

AP wrote that analysts from Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Stifel Nicolaus, among others, seemed to agree that the company's stock is a good long-term investment, even though Clearwire will likely lose money for years.

In a note issued this morning, Jefferies & Co. said it too was initiating coverage on Clearwire, rating the company a "buy" with a $22 price target.

"While we view CLWR shares as speculative, given the company's limited operating history, we also believe our PT (price target) is supported by the value of the company's spectrum," it wrote.

As a disclosure, Jefferies acted as co-manager on the company's March initial public offering.

Jefferies also noted a number of risks the company faces:

-- Clearwire is young and has a history of operating losses.

-- The company will need to raise an additional $2.5 billion to $3 billion of financing prior to reaching a fully funded state.

-- Jefferies believes most customers will use Clearwire's service as a complement to existing broadband access, rather than as a replacement, potentially limiting the overall size of the company's addressable market.

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April 12, 2007 4:09 PM

Vonage in rough waters

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Vonage Chief Executive Michael Snyder has stepped down and resigned from the board of directors, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

The company, which sells Internet phone services, said it would also cut roughly 10 percent of its work force (about 180 employees) and implement a hiring freeze to help cut $30 million in expenses during the second quarter in expectation of poor first-quarter results.

Vonage founder Jeffrey Citron, now chairman and chief strategist, will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a replacement.

I wonder if this means anything or nothing at all for Kirkland-based Clearwire, which many analysts have compared to Vonage?

To be sure, there are a few parallels. Clearwire is a startup Internet service that also recently went public. Both companies have to create awareness about a whole new service and technology and new brand. Both sell to consumers.

Clearwire went public last month, raising $600 million in its initial public offering. Since then, its stock price has failed to remain at or above its offering price of $25 a share. Today, the stock closed at $19.49. It will have to report its first quarterly earnings report soon.

Of course, one stark difference is that Clearwire is not plagued with the problems facing Vonage. Vonage is involved in a bitter legal battle involving a patent dispute with Verizon Communications, which actually might threaten its survival. A judge ordered Vonage to stop marketing its service to new customers.

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April 4, 2007 3:19 PM

Speakeasy buy leaves some users smarting

Posted by Kim Peterson

Has the Speakeasy/Best Buy shock worn off yet? People were not happy with the news last week that Best Buy is acquiring the popular Seattle-based ISP. At least, if some of the Web forums are to be believed.

Over on Digg, responses to the news were almost completely negative.

Speakeasy "customers are the exact sort (highly technical with long-term internet experience) that will refuse to deal with Best Buy and leave in droves," wrote one poster.

"In my dealings with Speakeasy, I've had nothing but good experiences, and can't think of a single negative comment I could make towards them," wrote another. "Unfortunately, I can't even come close to saying the same for Best Buy."

The tone was no different at Om Malik's site.

"I currently use SpeakEasy and plan to drop it like a hot tater next month - no WAY am I going to have Best Buy as my ISP," wrote one poster.

Wonder what kind of feedback Speakeasy is receiving from its customers these days?

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April 4, 2007 11:39 AM

Clearwire's new call center

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire said yesterday it was opening up a new "technology service center," or what seems like a fancy name for a call center.

It will be located in Milton, Fla., and could hire more than 400 people, who will provide technical assistance to the Kirkland company's high-speed wireless broadband service.

Clearwire offers service in 36 metro markets covering more than 350 municipalities in 12 states including Florida, as well as Ireland, Belgium and Denmark.

It is the company's second support center, said Perry Satterlee, Clearwire's president and COO, in a statement.

"The opening of our second technical support center is part of our long-term business strategy to meet the growing customer demand for our simple, fast, portable, reliable and affordable wireless Internet service," he said.

I'm not so sure why they need so much assistance when the service claims to be so easy to use. Clearwire is purchased in a box and requires no installation or software downloads. Customers access the service by taking the modem out of the box, plugging it in and connecting the Ethernet cord to the customer's computer.

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March 28, 2007 6:40 AM

CTIA: The WiMax effect

Posted by Tricia Duryee

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are a million things going on at once at CTIA.

The LG booth, for instance, appears to be as many as three stories high and has the effect of waterfalls cascading down the side. Loud techno music pumps from the booth, making it what I believe might make the largest and most eye-catching of all on the floor. Perhaps Samsung's or Ericsson's come in second and third -- for sure on size alone.

But those aren't the things really stealing the show.

WiMax is.

In the three years I have been covering CTIAs, this is the first time WiMax has had a significant presence.

Motorola is hosting a panel discussion on the topic today; there ares standalone WiMax booths on the floor for network equipment; Sprint Nextel disclosed Monday where it will launch the next dozen or so markets for its WiMax service; and I even ran into Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff, who was cruising the floor.

The consensus is that the WiMax-at-wireless-shows trend started in Feburary at the 3GSM show in Barcelona, Spain. Folks at Motorola said it was there that Vodafone was quoted in one of the major papers as saying carriers should be very afraid of WiMax -- or something along on those lines.

From then on, WiMax supposedly was the topic of conversation.

The increased presence may be a sign of the technology's maturity.

WiMax World, the annual trade show dedicated to wireless broadband, is typically held in Boston every year in the fall. This year, the show has moved to Chicago (Motorola's back yard) because of the increased number of attendants.

Perhaps, the 3G carriers will show up there?

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March 26, 2007 2:41 PM

CTIA: Sprint's moves in WiMax

Posted by Tricia Duryee

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sprint Nextel's press conference started off today with the launch of the Samsung UpStage, but ended up touching on every aspect's of the Reston, Va., company's business.

Coupled with the UpStage launch, Sprint simultaneously announced that it will drop the price of each song downloaded over the air to 99 cents -- an industry first.

Second, its cable joint venture will be known as "Pivot."

And finally, it made some announcements related to its WiMax initiatives, which it calls its 4G network.

-- Sprint said it will partner with Samsung, ZTE and Zyxel for its WiMax devices.

-- It announced 19 new WiMax markets, including Seattle, which Atish Gude, Sprint's senior vice president of mobile broadband, put at the end of the (alphabetical) list of rollouts in 2008.

As far as I could tell, Seattle will be the only market where it will directly compete with Kirkland-based Clearwire. That should be interesting. While some people question the viability of having one WiMax provider, what will two look like?

Additionally, what makes it interesting is that previous reports said Sprint Nextel and Clearwire would work together to not duplicate efforts and roll out in different markets.

When I asked Gude about this, he had this to say:

Clearwire, who?? That's a joke. We have had a business plan for quite some time and we are diligent in following it. They [Clearwire] are following a different model -- one of fixed WiMax. We are about bringing mobility.

If I attempt decipher that very politically correct answer, I would guess that means they aren't working together at all on what markets they are rolling out.- Sprint is going one way, as planned, while Clearwire is on its own path.

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March 21, 2007 1:10 PM

Clearwire launches in Yakima

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire said today that it is launching wireless high-speed Internet access in Yakima March 27.

Yakima is Clearwire's seventh market in Washington state, with two more -- in Wenatchee and Kitsap County -- set to launch soon. The Seattle area, including Everett and Tacoma, is the largest market Clearwire is providing service in today.

A short event is scheduled to take place March 27 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Yakima Convention Center. Featured speakers will include Yakima Mayor Dave Edler, Mike Morrisette, Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce CEO, Heidi Anderson of Children's Wishes & Dreams, and Bill Dochnahl, Clearwire's general manager for Yakima.

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March 8, 2007 10:14 AM

Clearwire's out of the gate

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The Kirkland company that just raised $600 million in its initial public offering last night is trading steady in its first day on the market.

Clearwire is using an emerging technology called WiMax to build a wireless broadband network across the country.

It sold 24 million shares last night for $25 a piece to make $600 million -- better than its highest expectations. In addition, the company has granted the underwriters the option to purchase up to an additional 3.6 million shares of Class A stock at $25 to cover over-allotments, if any.

In early trading today, the company's stock -- with the ticker CLWR -- jumped to around $28 a share before falling back to $25.

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March 7, 2007 7:07 PM

Clearwire's public offering at $600 million

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire raised $600 million today in a highly anticipated public offering, making it the second largest IPO in Washington state's history.

Clearwire exceeded all of its expectations: it sold 24 million shares for $25 apiece, reaching the high end of the expected range of $23 to $25.

The company expected to sell as many as 23 million shares, including an overallotment.

Beginning Thursday, the company's stock will start trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CLWR.

Check out my Web story -- to be posted soon -- here, as well as another story tomorrow.

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March 7, 2007 2:06 PM

Clearwire is set to go public

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Now that the public markets have closed for the day (and we aren't talk about Pike Place), Clearwire is expected to be priced any minute in its initial public offering.

If it's any indication that it could occur soon, Clearwire filed four documents with the Securities & Exchange Commission today.

Two of those documents are just updates to Clearwire's initial IPO intentions.

There's not much different in the document today compared with the one filed Feb. 20.

What did stand out were details on where the Kirkland-based company is planning to roll out its WiMax-like services next. It wrote that it plans to make the service available to about 16 million to 18 million people in 2007 in the U.S. and abroad. The number reaches to more than 45 million people in 2008.

In the rest of 2007 and for all of 2008, Clearwire said it plans to launch in "certain small cities in Central or Eastern Washington, small and medium cities in Central and North Florida and South Alabama, various contiguous small cities in adjacent suburban and rural areas in Southeastern Pennsylvania and medium metropolitan areas in Central California, and medium to large metropolitan areas in Texas and in the Southeast."

It also expects to expand its market in Belgium, and launch in Spain.

This line in the filing is also new: "We believe this deployment schedule diversifies our geographic concentration, makes efficient use of our existing spectrum portfolio and carries potential to broaden our subscriber base to as many as 375,000 to 400,000 total subscribers in both our U.S. and international markets by the end of 2007."

At the end of 2006, Clearwire offered service to the 8.6 million people in its 34 U.S. markets and 1 million people abroad, in Brussels, Belgium and Dublin, Ireland. Clearwire had 184,400 U.S. subscribers and 21,800 international subscribers at year's end.

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March 5, 2007 5:09 PM

Clearwire's impending IPO

Posted by Tricia Duryee

There's a ton of speculation about Clearwire's IPO, which should be right around the corner -- maybe tomorrow or Wednesday.

Business Week speculated today that the Kirkland wireless broadband company's IPO "could be one of the most talked about -- and sought-after -- tech initial public offerings of the year." And the company, which is offering up to 23 million shares at $23 to $25 each could actually go for more.

Business Week quoted Scott Sweet, a managing partner at consultancy IPOBoutique.com, who said the shares are likely to debut at $25 to $27, fetching Clearwire as much as $621 million, compared with the $513 million the company initially expected.

TheStreet.com reported today that the IPO market is "about to heat up with the launch of the Clearwire initial public offering," calling it "the current pet project of one of the biggest names in American entrepreneurialism: Craig McCaw."

The most interesting tidbit came from Business Week, which questioned what would be next for the money-hungry company that would need millions upon billions in its life to roll out a national and potentially international WiMax network.

The story said Clearwire could become an attractive acquisition target for Sprint, which has already dedicated billions to rolling out its own WiMax network.

Business Week said Sprint "could benefit from the addition of Clearwire's spectrum and its expertise in fixed WiMax. Sprint already plans to work with Clearwire to ensure the companies' respective networks don't interfere with one another. And because they own spectrum in different markets, Sprint doesn't expect to see much services overlap, says Don Stroberg, vice-president for mobile broadband strategy at Sprint."

Stroberg declined to comment on the acquisition rumors.

But wait, one step at a time, folks!

Clearwire may be receiving a lot of hype and attention, but it still is only one of a few tech IPOs testing the waters this year. It's also following the biggest market decline since 9/11.

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February 22, 2007 11:42 AM

Clearwire's new ad agency

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire hired Los Angeles-based Omnicom Group's DDB as its new advertising agency, according to industry trade publication RCR Wireless.

The article said Clearwire, which provides wireless broadband Internet access, hired the agency after a review of its advertising business, and that Clearwire's advertising spending could be expected to grow to more than $25 million.

Other agencies that Clearwire was reportedly considering were the Los Angeles offices of M&C Saatchi and independent shop Richards Group in Dallas.

Previously, Clearwire used St. John & Partners, of Jacksonville, Fla., the first market where its service was launched.

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February 21, 2007 11:49 AM

The buzz about Clearwire's IPO

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire, Craig McCaw's latest wireless venture, is getting ready to go public and attempting to raise up to $575 million.

And, if successful, Clearwire's IPO will be the second largest in Washington history after AT&T Wireless raised $10.6 billion in 2000.

With so much money on the line, the company is gathering quite a bit of buzz.

Clearwire is rolling out a nationwide wireless broadband network called WiMax that for now can replace DSL or cable in the home, but will be increasingly mobile in the future, potentially creating a whole host of new applications.

But recently, it seems every time I write about Clearwire, as I did today, I get a number of emails or phone calls asking about the IPO.

Partly, I think this is because the company was featured on Cramer's "Mad Money" TV show, last week. The show features Cramer, an enthusiastic man who picks stock that can send prices soaring.

And, according to TheStreet's recap of the show last week, he likes McCaw a lot, calling him one of "the greatest moneymakers" in telecom history.

It is true that McCaw has an incredible track record, responsible for what later became AT&T Wireless and Nextel Communications. But he also dabbled in ventures that flopped, such as XO Communications, which went bankrupt, and Teledesic, which sputtered before it had a chance of beaming Internet access from the sky.

Cramer acknowledged these ventures, saying: that even one of his biggest failures could have made people a fortune if they had been careful about profit-taking.

This background leads me to answer two of the biggest questions I've been getting from readers: When will the IPO happen? And, how can I participate in it?

First off, no one knows for sure when it will happen. Bellevue-based Sharebuilder, which allows individuals to buy stocks directly, is estimating that the stock will be priced during the week of March 3.

Secondly, it is really difficult to participate in IPOs as an individual.

"IPO investing is largely the province of large institutional investors; individuals are at a distinct disadvantage," according to IPOHome.com. Large institutional investors that have close relationships with the brokerage houses typically get first crack at buying shares. IPOHome.com does share a few techniques for how an individual could invest.

Good luck everyone.

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February 20, 2007 10:10 AM

Clearwire gains more airwaves

Posted by Tricia Duryee

When AT&T announced that it would purchase BellSouth, it agreed to a few conditions to get government approval.

One was to sell wireless broadband licenses held by BellSouth. The spectrum is good for rolling out technologies like WiMax, something both Sprint Nextel and Kirkland-based Clearwire pledge to do on a nationwide basis.

At the time, news reports said that Sprint Nextel was the likely bidder for the spectrum. I speculated here that Clearwire would most likely be the winner.

Today, AT&T announced that it would sell the spectrum to Clearwire. Prior to the merger between AT&T and BellSouth, BellSouth was offering wireless broadband in parts of 15 cities in eight states.

I could guess why Clearwire was the winner. The FCC did not require any conditions to the sale, so BellSouth was likely sell it to the least-threatening buyer. Or, perhaps, sell to the buyer to which it has the closest ties. That could be Clearwire, whose founder Craig McCaw also started McCaw Cellular Communications, which later became AT&T Wireless. Cingular Wireless, which bought AT&T Wireless in 2004, is now owned entirely by AT&T (and now called AT&T).

AT&T said today the transaction is worth $300 million in cash. It is expected to close promptly, following government approvals.

Clearwire has filed to go public, and updated its filings with the SEC last week to say that it now expects to raise up to $575 million. Two months ago, it was seeking to raise about $400 million.

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February 13, 2007 11:11 AM

Mobile WiMax on the horizon

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Before major WiMax competitors such as Clearwire and Sprint Nextel can build mobile wireless broadband networks, there must be equipment.

The WiMax Forum, which assists in the standardization process, said today it is one step closer to that happening.

Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is building WiMax-like networks based on proprietary equipment, and Sprint Nextel have both pledged to build true WiMax networks this year.

The Portland, Ore.-based WiMax Forum said 35 companies will begin testing their equipment for certification. The so-called WiMax Forum PlugFest is the second of its kind. The interoperability testing is taking place in labs in Malaga, Spain, this week.

The second plugfest has the largest number of participants to date. Companies include Accton Technology, Adaptix (formerly based in Seattle), Airspan Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Huawei Technologies, Intel, LG Electronics, Motorola, Navini, Nokia, PicoChip, POSDATA, Redline Communications, Redpine Signals, Runcom Technologies, Samsung, SEQUANS Communications, SOMA Networks, Telsima, Wavesat Wireless and ZTE.

In addition to these suppliers, 10 test equipment vendors supported the event: Aeroflex, AT4 wireless, Agilent, Anritsu, Azimuth Systems, Anite Telecoms, Innowireless, Sanjole, Rohde & Schwarz, and Tektronix.

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February 1, 2007 12:55 PM

Sprinting ahead in wireless broadband

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint is ahead in the race to roll out so-called 3.5G cellular broadband networks that provide faster upload speeds when connecting to the Internet.

On Tuesday, Sprint announced it was rolling out service in three more markets in South Florida, Portland, Ore., and Puerto Rico. It has already rolled out in Seattle and 21 other markets.

Almost as a comeback, today Verizon Wireless announced initial plans for rolling out its 3.5G network, also called EV-DO Rev A. It said in the service will be in the Boston area, the Richmond, Va., area, Chicago, Salt Lake City and in other cities in Utah, and throughout Verizon's footprint in Florida.

In general, Sprint said consumers can expect average download speeds of 450 to 800 kilobits per second (Kbps), with peak rates up to 3.1 megabits per second (Mbps). Upload speeds span between 300 and 400 Kbps, with peaks up to 1.8 Mbps.

I've had a lot of practice using both networks from both carriers. On a regular basis, I use Verizon Wireless 3G network -- something The Seattle Times pays for -- and am currently testing Sprint's 3.5G network through a loaner.

For the most part, when surfing the Internet and writing stories, I can't tell a difference between the two. However, there's a stark difference when sending data up, something I rarely do, but do notice the Sprint 3.5G service (vs. the Verizon 3G) is faster when uploading images I snap for the blog while traveling.

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January 29, 2007 11:18 AM

New Clearwire exec

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is building advanced wireless broadband networks called WiMax, has named Scott Richardson as the company's new chief strategy officer.

Richardson previously served as vice president of Intel's Mobility Group, where he led Intel's wireless broadband efforts from the start and was responsible for the company's development of WiMax chips for equipment and devices.

I caught up with Richardson at WiMax World in Boston late last year. I asked him at the time how WiMax will differ from Wi-Fi or 3G, which provides broadband speeds wirelessly over cellular networks.

His response: Wi-Fi is not everywhere and 3G is too expensive.

He said the 3G market is mostly corporate, whereas WiMax will be aimed at the consumer. "The cost [of 3G technology] is significantly higher than Wi-Fi, which prevents mass adoption by consumers," Richardson said.

How cheap?

He said Intel's goal was to make one chip with both Wi-Fi and WiMax capabilities for $20 each. At that price, it can easily be tacked on to a laptop or consumer device.

During Richardson's 19 years at Intel he held a variety of positions, including general manager of Intel's OEM communication systems business, serving the networking and communications market, and positions in the company's Enterprise Server Group. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Clarkson University in New York.

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January 23, 2007 12:26 PM

Sprint is taking down the walls

Posted by Tricia Duryee

InfoWorld reported more details on Sprint's WiMax plans today from an industry event in San Jose.

At Wireless Communications Association Symposium, Atish Gude, Sprint's senior vice president of mobile broadband operations, said the business model for WiMax will differ from that of the cellular model.

So far, Sprint has said little about how the service will be tailored and priced, likely because test markets won't be ready until the end of the year.

Still, messages from the carrier sounds as if Sprint is aiming for an open model that will allow subscribers to go anywhere on the Internet. Right now, wireless carriers tend to take a "walled garden" approach, where users can access only certain services provided by the operator.

But the carrier still hasn't decided on how open WiMax will be. For instance, InfoWorld reported that it might make more sense to limit access on some hardware platforms, such as gaming devices without keyboards.

As for price, Sprint still hasn't worked out the details, but broadband Internet access is generally priced at $35 to $40 a month, and Sprint believes mobility could carry a premium of $10 to $15.

One subscription could cover multiple devices, but would require an additional fee.

DSLreports.com also noted that Sprint's download speeds will be 2 to 4 megabits per second, comparable to cable broadband.

Those speeds, prices and applications are much different than what Kirkland-based Clearwire currently is selling with its WiMax-like equipment. For starters, it is offering a stationary service for now that acts more as a broadband replacement. At around $37 a month, subscribers can get download speeds of about 1.5 Mbps.

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January 19, 2007 4:01 PM

Will Stanton sprint to this job?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint Nextel CEO Gary Forsee has been searching unsuccessfully for a No. 2 executive to help him turn around the struggling cellphone company, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

In trying to fill the job, Sprint has approached Kevin Beebe, group president of operations at Alltel, former BellSouth COO Mark Feidler and even Ralph de la Vega, the former Cingular chief operating officer, who just took on the position of group president of regional wire-line operations at AT&T.

Reportedly, all said no.

So who does that leave on the list of people to ask?

The WSJ listed one name: John Stanton.

Stanton currently is a member of Alltel's board, a seat he gained after the regional carrier bought his company, Bellevue-based Western Wireless, in 2005.

Since the acquisition, Stanton has been investing, through Trilogy Equity Partners, some of the millions (about $500 million) he made on the sale of Western Wireless. He also considered a run for the Republican nomination for governor of Washington, but declined.

Turns out he's declining the No. 2 spot at Sprint, too.

"I am having fun with our new ventures and have absolutely no interest in the #2 job at Sprint," Stanton said in an e-mail to us.

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December 13, 2006 11:35 AM

Len Lauer's back

Posted by Tricia Duryee

In August, Sprint Nextel announced that Len Lauer, the chief operating officer, was leaving the company.

Lauer had been one of Sprint's leaders on the company's plans regarding WiMax, which provides high-speed wireless Internet access.

The departure was somewhat sudden, but It was explained as part of plans to accelerate the pace of the transition from the merger of Sprint and Nextel.

After reporting this information on the blog, a reader wondered where Lauer might land: Would he be hired by Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is building a WiMax network competitive to Sprint's?

Nope.

Today, Qualcomm announced it has hired Lauer as a corporate executive vice president and as group president overseeing key divisions: Wireless Business Solutions, MEMS Technologies, government technologies and the mobile TV subsidiary, MediaFLO USA.

The placement is interesting because Qualcomm has been very critical of WiMax as a technology, and instead supports the use of Qualcomm's Flarion technology, still under development.

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December 6, 2006 12:31 PM

Clearwire will roll out Wi-Fi in Grand Rapids

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The city of Grand Rapids, Mich. selected Clearwire on Tuesday to build a privately owned wireless broadband network for mobile, portable and nomadic data service in a 45-square mile area.

The summary agreement suggests Grand Rapids got a pretty sweet deal.

Kirkland-based Clearwire will provide discounted service of $9.95 a month to up to 5 percent of the households in Grand Rapids for qualifying low-income citizens, and Clearwire will offer free Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the city for visitors and occasional users. It will even reimburse the city the $100,000 it spent on the due diligence process.

The summary also includes one piece of very interesting information. It says Clearwire will be building the first large-scale, municipal mobile WiMax deployment in the country in Grand Rapids.

That's entirely possible. Up until now, Clearwire has been building out pre-WiMax networks, which are not mobile, but are considered nomadic instead. Typically, people cannot move while using the service.

The summary goes on to stipulate that Clearwire will enable public safety vehicles to use the service while traveling up to 70 miles per hour. (Watch out! You thought driving while using a BlackBerry was dangerous.)

I wonder about the claim that it will be the first, however. Supposedly, the first true mobile WiMax deployment was supposed to take place in Portland, where Clearwire and Intel could keep a close eye on things. That announcement was made at WiMax World in Boston this fall. Perhaps it is the difference between a commercial and trial market?

Clearwire, which unsuccessfully submitted a proposal to work on a broadband network in Seattle, is also working with the city of Fairfax, Va.

Ben Wolff, Clearwire's co-CEO, told me at WiMax World that his company is definitely interested in working with municipalities.

He explained that it made sense for there to be two wireless broadband networks in one city and how Clearwire could still attract customers when Wi-Fi might be cheaper, if not free. He said Wi-Fi is good for outdoor coverage and basic service, but WiMax is preferred when looking for indoor coverage, faster speeds and a certain level of quality.

"There's a place for muni-Wi-Fi and Clearwire in the world. They are complementary," Wolff said.

UPDATE: Despite quite an elaborate presentation at WiMax World, where a live video stream showed people installing a mobile WiMax tower in Portland, Clearwire talked down the presentation today. It said Intel's announcement, made at WiMax World, was that it was building "one of North America's first mobile WiMAX trials."

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November 16, 2006 12:51 PM

WiMax: the hype, and the truth

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The Clearwire launch event reminded me of the last time I was at the Space Needle, when another WiMax-like service was launching. In May 2005, Seattle-based Speakeasy said it was going to beam a the service from the top of the Space Needle and four other locations in Seattle to provide wireless Internet access.

Speakeasy CEO Bruce Chatterley made the announcement at Space Needle, where he walked around the tourist attraction's halo while wearing a harness on.

At the time, the launch was being called the first deployment of its scope in the U.S. -- both in size and complexity. Using equipment from Intel and Alvarion, the rooftop base stations were going to provide access in a 5-square-mile area.

The service was slightly different than Clearwire's offering because it was not aimed at consumers, but being sold to business customers as an alternative or backup to a fixed T1 connection. The monthly cost was from $500 to $800, depending on speed. For comparison, Clearwire charges up to $42 a month.

When I called Speakeasy officials earlier this week, they said they are no longer providing the service. Although a couple of early customers may still be using it, it is no longer a focus, said company spokeswoman Lynn Brackpool.

She said Speakeasy has instead opted to focus its energy, resources and efforts on rolling out voice over Internet Protocol.

Clearwire faces some of the same pressure. Because Seattle is the largest of its 32 markets it has launched in to date, everyone will be watching to see if it will work.

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November 16, 2006 12:25 PM

Clearwire's laser show replay

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Last night, Clearwire was expected to host what it called the largest ever laser light show at the Space Needle.

The landmark would be engulfed by lasers, like spotlights beaming from the ground up. However, because of weather conditions -- mostly wind -- it was less than spectacular. (Fittingly, the door gift to a launch event inside the Needle was a high-tech laser pointer with USB drive).

The show wasn't a complete disappointment, though. An image of the Clearwire logo was displayed down the side of the Needle, and a few lights at the top flashed green and blue. On the street below, motor scooters towing billboards circled the Needle, displaying ads for Clearwire.

To make up for the event, Clearwire said yesterday it plans to replay the show tonight at 9 (weather permitting, I suppose).

The wind factor wasn't an excuse. At the top of the Needle, the wind was blowing hard enough to sway the Needle an inch to two inches in each direction.

During the three-hour event, Craig McCaw, the co-CEO of the Kirkland company, made a presentation that included the history of the Needle dating back to the 1962 World's Fair. At the time, he said, transporting people was the focus of attention. But times have changed. "Transporting information is more important than transferring you."

The statement highlights Clearwire's wireless broadband service, which people can take with them and use in multiple locations to get Internet access.

The Seattle launch will be the company's biggest test to date. It's not only the largest area in which it has rolled out service, but it also offers some of the most difficult terrain in the world for providing wireless technology.

UPDATE: Clearwire said they have decided to forgo doing another show tonight. The lasers that did appear seemed to capture the essence enough.

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November 15, 2006 11:57 AM

Clearwire: The Q&A

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Following the launch today in Seattle of Clearwire, a wireless Internet broadband service, (and a story in The Seattle Times), I have received numerous emails, and tons of questions. Here's what I'm being asked and the answers I can provide to the best of my ability. I'll update this throughout the day as questions come in.

Q: Are you kidding me? You have to connect your laptop to the modem? As part of the growing legion of computer users who work only on laptops connected via Wi-Fi at home, Clearwire ain't in my future unless they fix that there problem.

A: Clearwire works similarly to any Internet connection. In order to get a Wi-Fi signal in the house, you must connect a wireless router to the modem. The graphic illustration here does point that out in the text.

UPDATE: The illustration also shows that you can use something called "ClearPlugs" that will send the signal through your electrical outlets, so you can have your modem in one room and your computer in another without connecting it with a wire, or setting up a wireless router (it must be plugged into an electrical outlet with an additional adapter).

Q: How much does it cost, is a contract required and what are the speeds?

A: A lot of people have been having a hard time finding this chart, where speeds and prices are laid out for several broadband options in the Seattle area. As you can see, the price goes up as mobility of the service increases. Speeds also decrease as the service becomes more portable. As far as contracts, yes, Clearwire typically requires a year-long commitment. Plan to keep it or else there might be penalties.

Q: Are there any security issues with Clearwire?

A: My very simple answer would be that it is more secure than Wi-Fi because it is using licensed spectrum -- in other words, Clearwire owns the airwaves that it operates on, whereas Wi-Fi shares a common band that's free and open to the public. A technical explanation can be found on Clearwire's Web site here.

It says:

"Your Clearwire connection is very secure. That's because Clearwire wireless technology uses OFDM transmission protocol, featuring a design standard that includes secure wireless data transmission. Wi-Fi operates on unlicensed 2.4GHz frequencies, making it vulnerable to scanning and packet interception. Clearwire operates at licensed 2.5GHz frequencies. Licensed frequencies and OFDM make for a very secure connection."


Q: How tall are the towers, and are they using existing cellphone towers?

A: I don't really know the entire answer to this, but the way towers work is this: The taller the tower, the bigger the area it can cover. However, the bigger the territory, the more people it serves, which may slow down the service. This is a science that cellphone companies also deal with today. The companies want to be efficient and make the towers as high as possible to serve as many people as possible, but if it reaches too many it will affect the quality of service. Many towers today are shared by many cellphone providers, so I don't see why Clearwire wouldn't also lease space from existing towers.

Q: Where's the laser light show tonight?

A: In celebration of Clearwire's launch today, it will be holding a laser light show at the Space Needle tonight at 7:15 p.m. More information is available here.

UPDATE:
Q: Why isn't the Wi-Fi router included in the modem?

A: A lot of people are asking this question "Why is Wi-Fi not integrated directly into the modem?" I don't have the answer to this, but may I point out that currently, this is how it works for both DSL and cable today? In order to get Wi-Fi service in the home, you must connect a wireless router to your cable or phone line. It also might be worthwhile to point out that the company is expecting to eliminate the modems by next year. They will be replaced with laptop cards which will be inserted directly into the laptop, and then eventually through chipsets installed directly in computers and other devices (This information can be found in the company's IPO registration which was filed and then pulled with the Securities & Exchange Commission).

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October 24, 2006 1:29 PM

A brother to WiMax works like a charm

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Monica Paolini, an telecom analyst in Sammamish, e-mailed a newsletter today on her experiences with WiBro, a WiMax-like service commecially deployed in South Korea.

The service is supposed to be one of the largest wireless broadband networks based on the WiMax standard in the world. At an industry trade show earlier this month, there was a lot of skepticism on whether WiMax will deliver on its promises of speed, reliability and applications.

It sounds like Paolini's experiences with WiBro may dispell most, if not all, of those questions.

Paolini wrote: "Last week in Seoul I had the opportunity to try WiBRO and it was quite impressive."

She said one of the things that impressed her the most was that she could make a Skype call from the 19th floor of a hotel when coverage was promised only to floor four.

She also noted that within the coverage area, she clocked rates ranging bewteen 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps in the downlink, and 250 to 500 Kbps in the uplink.

That also was considered quite good.

"This is quite a good performance as many users like me kept the network busy trying out the service, so unlike in most demos this was an intensively used network," she wrote.

One factor she looked at was the applications aimed at the service and how they were different from traditional cellular phone networks.

"In addition to Internet and e-mail access," she said, "the most salient feature of the other applications supported is that they were mostly aimed at user-to-user communication, like blogging, messaging, and video calls."

Those applications, she added, are cheaper to deploy because they rely on user-generated content, rather than more expensive content generated by movie or TV studios. User-generated content also requires faster networks because most of them require a faster network on the uplink. For instance, if a user wants to film a short video and then upload it to YouTube, the process would take much longer on a cellular network than it would on a WiBro network.

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October 12, 2006 4:10 PM

WiMax World: Floor goodies

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- As the final day of the conference was winding down, I took a quick walk through the WiMax World show floor featuring 140 exhibitors.


Tricia Duryee
Posdata, a South Korean company, is developing a line of devices called Flyvo shown at WiMax World. ...

To be honest, most of the stuff wasn't too exciting, especially from a consumer perspective. In large part, the equipment on display included antennas, which look like mini-satellite dishes, and base stations, which look like a computer's hard drive.

But two things caught my attention.

The Motorola booth was particularly large and flashy, which is a little unusual for equipment-makers, but matches the company's sense of style, a la Razr.

What was noticeable in particular was the sign. It said, "Motorola welcomes NextNet Wireless," the equipment manufacturer that Motorola purchased from Clearwire in the summer for an undisclosed amount of money.

A former NextNet engineer, who was manning the booth as a new Motorolan, said the ink was still drying on his business cards, but so far, the acquisition was going smoothly.


... Each device has Wi-Fi and WiBro, a version of WiMax used in South Korea. ...

In the background, you could see the evolution of NextNet's modems. The newest model, which had a signature "M" stamped on it, incorporates both NextNet's proprietary wireless broadband technology and the new mobile WiMax standard yet to be formally completed.

The hybrid modem, about the size of a laptop, will help in the transition as people move from NextNet's networks to standardized WiMax networks.

Motorola also had some pretty sexy devices, which they wouldn't let me photograph. But to give you an idea, instead of a clunky modem, the Motorola folks have packed the same technology into a stylish cylinder that looks a little bit like a miniature CP30.


... Some of the devices look like phones while others look more like PDAs or music players.

Another booth that caught my eye was a company called Posdata from South Korea. It was showing off a line of products branded Flyvo, made for the Korean market, which has rolled out a WiMax network called WiBro. The brand's tagline is appropriately "Flyvo makes the Internet fly."

The devices on display were the only ones I saw at all at the show, and illustrated the concepts I introduced earlier on Tech Tracks called "personal broadband"
or "open Internet."

Some of the devices looked like phones, while others looked more like a music player or a PDA. What they all have in common is that they have WiMax and Wi-Fi.

Some of the devices are currently being tested in South Korea.

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October 12, 2006 11:44 AM

WiMax World: Muni Wi-Fi debate

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- The city of Seattle has been researching the future of Internet access for its residents for some time.

A while ago, it decided that a municipal Wi-Fi system would not be enough to fullfill our future bandwidth needs. Instead, it found that laying fiber to the home would be best.

Since then, it has asked companies that may be interested in such a plan to submit letters explaining how they would build a network.

Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is at WiMax World this week, submitted a letter. I asked Ben Wolff, Clearwire's chief executive, whether it was interested in working with municpalities on broadband networks.

The answer was a clear "yes." Followed by details on how it was working with Fairfax, Va., on a hybrid WiMax-like and Wi-Fi network. Wolff didn't have all the details -- it was unclear if Clearwire was building both the Wi-Fi and WiMax components and whether it would operate them.

But he explained his reasoning as to why it made sense for there to be two wireless broadband networks in one city and how he could still attract customers when Wi-Fi might be cheaper, if not free.

He explained that Wi-Fi is good for outdoor coverage and basic service. But if people are looking for indoor coverage, faster speeds and a certain level of quality, they will have the option of upgrading to Clearwire's WiMax-like service.

"There's a place for muni-Wi-Fi and Clearwire in the world. They are complementary," Wolff said.

Needless to say, Clearwire was not one of the 11 companies picked by the city to go through a second phase of planning.

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October 12, 2006 11:36 AM

WiMax World: Can't we all get along?

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- Hold on to your seats, this is going to be a lesson on intellectual property rights, which I will explain to the best of my ability.

One reason why WiMax is predicted to be so much cheaper than traditional cellular networks is patents.

In the cellular world, many patents are held by a few individuals, which gives them a lot of power to set the market price. One example: Qualcomm. It owns a majority of the patents for CDMA networks, which both Sprint and Verizon Wireless operate. And observers say it charges steep royalties for licenses.

It sounds as if Sprint Nextel is doing everything in its power to avoid that scenario with WiMax and the vendors it has chosen to work with -- Motorola, Intel and Samsung.

Fred Wright, Motorola senior vice president, said Sprint Nextel was really aggressive in negotiating intellectual property rights with Motorola.

"They are very demanding when it comes to price-performance expectations," he said. "They were very demanding around the licensing of technology. They are very careful not to create another Qualcomm situation."

He added: "Samsung, Motorola and Intel all have agreements on licensing that will keep things much cheaper."

The issue, although technical and hard to summarize, was an underlying theme of the show this week at WiMax World, with lots of sessions on how the industry can work together to keep costs down and not create a concentration of power with one company.

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October 12, 2006 11:21 AM

WiMax World: New business model

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- Based on explanations offered at WiMax World this week, an entirely new business model is forming around the technology Sprint Nextel is so eager to implement.

The model is called open Internet access, and it provides a simplier structure than the cellular industry has today.

Today, cellular operators act as gatekeepers, approving every application and all the content available on a phone. The result can be less innovation. But WiMax is attempting to build simple cost structures and an open platform for any developer.

What that means is a much faster pace of innovation. For cellular handset manufacturers, such as Nokia and Motorola, it also means a chance to produce new consumer products outside of their traditional domain -- phones.

Fred Wright, senior vice president of Motorola, said it's exciting.

He compares WiMax right now to the early 1980s when the cellular industry was just taking off. He remembers one of the main industry events held at the Westin in Palm Springs that had a very similar vibe as this week's WiMax World in Boston.

"It is deja vu all over again," he said. "In looking at the cellular industry, I expect the same thing to happen with WiMax."

With that big of a future expected, he said: "There is a huge transformation opportunity for Motorola, It will be a rebirth of our company and all the products we can bring to market."

Nokia, the largest handset manufacturer in the world, had the same thing to say.

It held up its Nokia Tablet 770 as an example of something that could be developed for a WiMax network. Today, the device, which is about the size of paperback book, has Wi-Fi and no chip for a phone and runs on Linux.

Mark Slater, Nokia's vice president of sales and marketing for North America, said he believes the devices that will use WiMax first are laptops. Then, he says he sees all sorts of devices that won't necessarily be a phone or even be capable of making voice calls.

A lot of this innovation will be supported by the new business model. In the open Internet model, he said, operators will stop subsidizing the price of a phone, which is good for Nokia. Now he said the value of the device can stand on its own, and people don't expect it to be free.

"We are excited about the open Internet model," he said. "We are in favor of no subsidizes.

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October 11, 2006 10:30 AM

WiMax World: Press room jinx

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- It is inevitable. I have come to expect that every trade show I travel to will have problems with its wireless network, especially in the media room.

This is especially true if it is a wireless conference. It happens nearly twice a year at both CTIA shows, it has happened at 3GSM, an international wireless show in Barcelona, and it is now happening here at WiMax World.

It clearly demonstrates how fickle Wi-Fi is, and how unlikely that the technology could be used on a large scale with many users in a concentrated area.

At least, this is exactly the argument presented by the WiMax industry, and why it believes WiMax will be different -- it can handle higher capacity, while at the same time encountering less interference because it uses licensed spectrum.

Because I can understand how this might happen, I travel with a 3G card from Verizon Wireless. It typically delivers fairly fast speeds, and doesn't kick me off every few minutes, as Wi-Fi does.

But the additional hurdle that the fine folks at WiMax World added this year, which I didn't prepare for, was assigning the press room to the basement -- three floors down from the main level. Signal strength for a phone is weak at best.

I hope WiMax really can pull off all its promises, especially at the industry's own conferences.

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October 11, 2006 9:44 AM

WiMax World: Clearwire gives updates

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- This morning at WiMax World, Ben Wolff, co-chief executive of Clearwire, offered a rare glimpse into the Kirkland company.

Since October 2003, the company has building WiMax-like networks in select U.S. cities and some European countries. It is currently building fixed WiMax services, which compete with DSL and cable in the home. Customers who sign up for the service buy a modem that can fit in a briefcase and plug it into a wall connection on one end and into their computer on the other to get Internet access. The service is considered portable because it can be accessed anywhere in a given service territory, as long as electricity is available. The service costs roughly $30 to $37 a month, depending on desired speeds. That doesn't include a $5-a-month modem fee.

During this morning's keynote, Wolff unveiled a series of facts and figures about the company.

Some of the details are interesting primarily to industry insiders, but some give a little insight to the service.

-- Wolff said when the cellular industry was first launching, forecasts placed growth rates at 1 to 2 percent. That's the speed at which Clearwire is growing every quarter or two, Wolff said. "We are we seeing tremendous demand for our services," he said.

-- At the end of 2005, the company had 50,000 subscribers. Nine months later, Wolff said it had 162,000. That's out of the 5.6 million people who could have access to Clearwire's service in 31 markets.

-- It currently has enough spectrum today to reach 210 million people in the U.S., or two-thirds of the nation's population.

-- In surveys of customers, Clearwire has found that 10 percent had no Internet access before; 32 percent switched from dial-up; and 58 percent had wireline broadband.

-- Wolff said the top three reasons consumers buy the service were simplicity, portability and speed. "Two-thirds of customers are selecting us because of portability," he said. "It can fit in briefcase, and has to be plugged into power, but when chips are built into devices and PC cards, the portability and mobility aspects will go through the roof."

UPDATE: In my conversation with Ben Wolff later in the day, he corrected me on one of these points. He clarified that when the wireless industry was just getting started it predicted 1 to 2 percent penetration rates in total, as in forever, not each year as I had originally stated.

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October 11, 2006 7:07 AM

WiMax World: First mobile WiMax trial

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- Intel's Sean Maloney made another first while on stage this morning at WiMax World.

Through a live camera feed to Oregon, where it was 7 a.m. and the sun was just rising, he showed footage of a Motorola base station being installed.

That now becomes the site of the first mobile WiMax trial being conducted in North America through a partnership with Intel, Motorola and Kirkland-based Clearwire.

That makes sense, given that Intel and Motorola are both investors in Clearwire, which is led by Craig McCaw. Intel invested in Clearwire years ago, and most recently the two invested $1 billion in July.

"Its been a big year for WiMax," said Maloney. "Its good to look back on the progress that's been made, and see the clear establishment of WiMax in most countries now."

Still, he stressed the challenges that lie ahead, including getting the cost down of equipment, and solving roaming problems between the various networks to make it an easy service for consumers to use.

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October 11, 2006 6:39 AM

WiMax World: The need for speed

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- The momentum continued at WiMax World today, the first official day of the annual conference, with more announcements and first-time demonstrations.

During an early morning press conference, Nokia announced something completely unsexy, but promises that it is equally as important as a flashy high-end phone. The Finnish mobile phone giant unveiled a small base station that resides at a tower and provides WiMax. It can be installed by one person, making it cheaper to deploy.

Nokia said it already has secured sales of the base station and will have trials as soon as early 2007 and deployments by the end of the year. On the device side, it confirmed that it will have WiMax phones and tablets by 2008.

The first keynote this morning was by Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney, who said there has been a lot of momentum in the WiMax industry since Sprint Nextel announced about a month ago that it is adopting the technology.

"It has been a great year for WiMax, and we have a lot of work to do over the next four years," he said.

He asked, "Why is all of this is happening, what is driving the enormous capital commitments that the industry is making?"

His answer: the Internet.

"All of the outrageous hyperbole has either happened or exceeded our expectations," he said. "There was a boom and then a bust and then the thing is lifting up again over the last few years."

Intel then completed the first-ever demonstration of its WiMax "mobile compliant" chipset.

The demonstration showed off Internet access, live streaming Internet TV, and voice over Internet Protocol.

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October 10, 2006 7:14 AM

WiMax World: facts for starters

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- In the pre-conference day before WiMax World really kicks off in Boston, a number of interesting facts and figures about the emerging technology surfaced during a presentation by Berge Ayvazian, Yankee Group's chief strategy officer and Philip Marshall, a Yankee analyst.

First off, Yankee talked about its first-ever forecast for the WiMax industry. With both Kirkland-based Clearwire and Sprint Nextel announced their intentions to build nationwide WiMax networks, Yankee is predicting there will be 7.3 million subscribers of WiMax by 2010. That does not include subscribers of 3G wireless broadband networks.

Yankee said 200 WiMax trials have been launched in 65 countries worldwide, with 35 commercial fixed service offerings already up and running.

And, during some of his final comments, Ayvazian offered this piece of gossip: DirecTV and EchoStar had been invited to participate in a panel discussion about the quadruple and triple play (Internet, voice, wireless and TV), but "Unfortunately they were not willing to accept our invitation," Ayvazian said.

DirecTV and EchoStar are looking at using WiMax to provide voice and Internet connectivity that they cannot offer today with a satellite network. In fact, the two had been bidding on spectrum that was up for auction recently, but bowed out after prices went too high. Now, DirecTV and EchoStar are rumored to be working on developing a partnership with a WiMax provider, such as Clearwire, to provide these services.

"Rather than obtain licenses, they'll joint venture with others," Ayvazian said.

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October 9, 2006 12:29 PM

WiMax World next up

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BOSTON -- I just arrived in Boston in time for WiMax World, which kicks off tomorrow and perhaps is the largest gathering for the new and upcoming technology.

I would have posted this blog item while on the train, but my trusty Verizon Wireless EV-DO card, failed to work. It's up and running now.

Here's what you need to know about WiMax in order to get the context of what will be happening this week.

WiMax is similar to Wi-Fi in that it provides wireless broadband access, but it is distributed more like cellular technology. A signal is be broadcasted from a tower and cover an entire town -- unlike Wi-Fi, which typically covers a single coffee shop. Plus, WiMax chips are supposed to be cheaper than cellular phone radios, allowing the technology to be included in laptops, handheld game players, cameras and all kinds of other devices..

In the past few months, the technology has progressed to a point where some major players are starting to make huge bets on it. Kirkland-based Clearwire and Sprint Nextel are both building national networks, and Intel and Motorola are backing the technology with a committment of hardware and billions of dollars.

The first day of the conference is tomorrow, but the big day is Wednesday when some of the industry leaders will keynote, including Sean Maloney of Intel, which is investing billions in the technology, and Ben Wolff, co-CEO of Clearwire, which was started by wireless guru Craig McCaw. After Wolff, Motorola Executive Vice President Gregory Brown will take the stage.

What a coincidence that those three will all talk one after another. Intel and Motorola were the lead investors in a $1 billion financing round that Clearwire received recently, Plus, Motorola purchased Clearwire's equipment subsidary NextNet for an undisclosed sum.

What could they possibly say next?

On Wednesday, Wolff will also participate in a roundtable discussion called "The Clearwire Partnership and the Future of Wireless Broadband." Sitting alongside him will be Motorola's Brown and Scott Richardson, vice president of Intel's mobility group.

Other sessions Wednesday will include WiMax in emerging countries, mobile TV and WiMax, and WiMax's role in the triple and quadruple play.

On Thursday, the last day of the conference, keynoters include Berg Ayvazian, chief strategy officer of the Yankee Group; Ron Resnick, the WiMax Forum's chairman, who will discuss whether mobile WiMax is ready for global deployment; and Peter MacKinnon, WiMax general manager of the LG-Nortel Joint Venture, who will be discussing 4G or the "Next G."

Stay tuned for more.

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October 2, 2006 3:01 PM

Stanton invests in BelAir

Posted by Tricia Duryee

BelAir Networks, which builds wireless broadband solutions, said today that it has raised $21.4 million, in part, from Trilogy Equity Partners, the Bellevue-based fund started by former T-Mobile USA Chief Executive John Stanton.

The lead investor of the Ontario-based company's fourth round was Ventures West Management.

"Trilogy Equity Partners looks for innovation, passion, and execution excellence -- BelAir Networks and its management team deliver on all three," said Trilogy's Tim Wong, former T-Mobile USA chief technology officer. "The company's proven and cost-effective mobile broadband mesh networks are differentiated by their carrier-class capacity, reliability and scalability. Only BelAir is applying its technology today to backhaul live cellular traffic."

The capital will be used to roll out municipal wireless networks in cities where it recently won contracts, including Minneapolis, City of London and Toronto. The funds will also be used to continue sales and marketing activities in the cable and cellular industries, and to further expand into international markets. Today, the company's wireless broadband technology is used in more than 150 networks worldwide.

Existing investors Comcast Interactive Capital, T-Mobile Venture Fund, Panorama Capital (formerly JPMorgan Partners), VenGrowth Capital Partners, BDC Venture Capital, and MMV Financial also participated in this round.

In addition to the equity financing, MMV Financial also provided a $5 million venture loan.

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September 27, 2006 1:25 PM

WiMax may be a bargain

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Verizon Communications stock fell more than 3 percent during trading today after it said it will spend $22.9 billion to rewire more than half of its copper telephone network with fiber optics so it can sell cable TV and fast Internet connections. The project is called FiOS.

I wrote a story on Monday that detailed why Verizon and others are feeling the pressure to provide new services to complete their "quadruple play."

Other companies are turning to wireless broadband, or WiMax, to provide Internet and phone services. Satellite TV companies DirecTV and EchoStar in particular are looking at it because they currently can't provide Internet access or phone access with their technology.

With Verizon's announcement on how much the project will cost, it's starting to make WiMax appear cheap in comparison.

Kirkland-based Clearwire has raised more than $2 billion to roll out part of a nationwide network, and Sprint Nextel pledged $3 billion to provide WiMax service to 100 million people within a couple of years.

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September 20, 2006 11:07 AM

DirecTV reaffirms interest in WiMax

Posted by Tricia Duryee

A DirecTV executive told a crowd of investors that his company was still interested in signing a Wi-Fi or WiMax deal that would allow the TV service to also provide broadband Internet access to customers.

The rumors had been out there for some time that DirecTV is willing to invest about $1 billion into a company that would allow it to more readily compete with cable operators.

But as recently as yesterday, a story in the Hollywood Reporter suggested that News Corp., DirecTV's parent, may be interested in selling its interest in the satellite TV company rather than try to get into the broadband business. News Corp. would sell it to Liberty Media in exchange for Liberty Media's holdings in News Corp.

But in a Wall Street Journal story today, Chase Carey, chief executive of DirecTV Group, said the company was reasonably close to signing a wireless broadband deal.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference, Carey was quoted as saying: "Just because we haven't announced a deal in six months, doesn't mean that [it] isn't moving forward."

He added: "From our perspective, we are really looking at broadband as being a business that we would invest in, but not be 100 percent owner of."

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August 28, 2006 12:50 PM

Lauer let go again

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Last week, Sprint Nextel said Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer was leaving the company, his services no longer needed.

This week, he was let go again. This time from he was erased from the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment keynote lineup at the September convention and told he will no longer be the wireless association's chairman of the board.

"Given the situation that Len is no longer serving a role at Sprint Nextel, he has been removed as chairman at CTIA," said Shannon Nix, a CTIA spokeswoman. "The nature of his role at Sprint is why he was elected as chairman. Given that he is no longer in a leadership role there, he is no longer in a leadership role at CTIA."

She added that Sprint Nextel is working on a replacement for the keynote speaker. "There will be no impact on the keynote or on the integrity of the show," she said.

Lauer's term as chairman was expiring at the end of the year. Gary Forsee, Sprint Nextel's chief executive, took over Lauer's role as COO internally at the company, and was also appointed to the CTIA board of directors last week.

"Len's leadership as the association chairman and dedication to serving the wireless community have been exemplary," said Steve Largent, CTIA president and CEO. "He has consistently provided keen insight on a number of wireless-related issues and has been a valuable contributor to the association's and industry's efforts to promote public policy and initiatives that benefit wireless consumers."

Rough couple of weeks.

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August 21, 2006 4:09 PM

Sprint Nextel COO leaves

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sprint Nextel said today that Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer is leaving the company and will not be replaced.

The AP reported that Lauer had been with the company since 1998. He became president and chief operating officer of Sprint in September 2003 and became COO of Sprint Nextel after the August 2005 merger created the Reston, Va.-based wireless giant.

Lauer had been running Sprint Nextel from Overland Park, where Sprint was headquartered before the merger. The company said Monday that Gary Forsee, Sprint Nextel's president and chief executive officer, will take over Lauer's operating responsibilities.

"Len has been an important part of the Sprint team for the past eight years and provided strong leadership and counsel," Forsee told the AP. "We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well."

"The decision behind the change was made as the company seeks to accelerate the pace of our transition and improve operational execution," spokesman David Gunasegaram said Monday.

Lauer, whose departure is effective immediately, was often times the public face of the company, keynoting at several industry conferences every year and by serving as chairman of the board of CTIA, the industry's national association. He is still listed as a keynote speaker at the upcoming CITA IT & Entertainment convention in Los Angeles on Sept. 12.

He also played a role in deciding what technology the company would use for its next generation high-speed wireless broadband. Two weeks ago, Sprint Nextel announced that it chose Motorola, Intel and Samsung to roll out WiMax.

In January, I caught up with Lauer at the Wireless Communications Association International conference in San Jose, where WiMax was a focus.

He said at the time that it will be critical to deploy wireless broadband such as WiMax in a couple of years because the number of subscribers using high-bandwidth applications will tap out Sprint's current network.

It is a "high-class problem," he told me.

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August 14, 2006 10:38 AM

Mobile WiMax will outdo fixed, report says

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Sales of fixed wireless broadband, where users can't roam as they do on cellphones, will peak and level off in 2007, according to a report published by ABI Research today.

The report said it will taper off in favor of mobile WiMax, which will allow users to handoff from one tower to the next. The prediction that mobile WiMax will overtake fixed WiMax is not surprising given that Sprint Nextel announced last week it plans to begin rolling out a nationwide mobile WiMax network in 2007 and 2008. Also, Kirkland-based Clearwire is installing a proprietary version of fixed WiMax across the country and plans to upgrade to mobile WiMax soon.

"Mobile WiMAX will start to see deployments in 2007, and the crossover point between the two will be late in 2008," said ABI Analyst Alan Varghese.

ABI Research said that in the mobile version there will be three challenges: performance, power consumption and cost.

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August 9, 2006 1:38 PM

Clearwire clears a few things up

Posted by Tricia Duryee

After Sprint Nextel announced yesterday it had picked WiMax as its technology of choice to roll out a nationwide wireless broadband network, I called Clearwire to ask a few questions.

Kirkland-based Clearwire has been working for at least three years on building a wireless broadband network. It's led by Craig McCaw, the wireless entrepreneur who started McCaw Cellular Communications, which later became AT&T Wireless. Clearwire uses a proprietary technology in its 30 markets, while it waits for WiMax equipment to become available in the next year or so.

A lot of the material from yesterday's interview made it into today's story, but I didn't get a chance to include some of the responses to questions I asked about, espeically surrounding a lot of rumors about the company.

Although Ben Wolff, Clearwire's co-chief executive with McCaw, declined to answer a couple, he cleared others up.

On the issue of whether Clearwire was participating in today's spectrum auction, where the government is selling the rights to airwaves, Wolff said "no, we aren't."
When I asked if Clearwire was possibly participating through the help of a partner, Wolff said again, "We are not participating at all."

On whether Clearwire might be working with Rupert Murdoch's DirecTV (which is participating in today's auction) to form a partnership, Wolff said up until now, "there has been no comment."

I asked if he would like to change that response, he said: "no."

I also asked him what his reaction was to Sprint Nextel, which was claiming that it will be the first company to roll out a WiMax or a 4G network.

He said: "We are certainly already in the process of rolling out a pre-WiMax network, and we've made the commitment to a WiMax network. So, with all due respect to Sprint, I wouldn't agree with its statements. But then, we haven't seen the need to share a whole lot of what we are doing with Sprint."

To date, Clearwire and Sprint have been working together on a limited basis, mostly swapping spectrum in geographic areas where one is deficient and the other is flush. But a note in Clearwire's initial public offering filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (which it has since canceled), said the company can swap spectrum with Nextel until Oct. 3, 2006, or for less than another two months.

Wolff said that is true, but clarified that there's no reason why the two companies couldn't continue to work together after that contract expires.

"There's no particular parameters that says we can't do anything in particular," he said.

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August 8, 2006 9:37 AM

Sprint sets sights on WiMax

Posted by Tricia Duryee

In a 10 a.m. press conference this morning, Sprint Nextel is expected to finally announce what technologies it has chosen to roll out wireless broadband across the country.

The WSJ reported in a story in today's paper that the winner is WiMax, the same standard that Craig McCaw's Clearwire is rolling out across the country. Sprint Nextel had also been evaluating Flarion, a technology owned by Qualcomm.

What's more interesting is that Sprint Nextel has chosen Intel and Motorola as its equipment providers. Those are the same two companies that recently invested $900 million in Kirkland-based Clearwire.

As part of that deal, Motorola also purchased Clearwire's equipment subsidiary, NextNet, for an undisclosed amount.

Makes you wonder what kind of roaming relationships Sprint Nextel and Clearwire will assemble...

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July 25, 2006 12:36 PM

News Corp.'s broadband interests

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Rumors have been circulating for a while now that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was looking at investing in broadband wireless in order for its satellite TV division to effectively compete with cable companies.

The exact message Murdoch had been circulating was that his company was interested in investing up to $1 billion into a wireless broadband company. A potential partner was Craig McCaw's Clearwire in Kirkland.

Murdoch revealed a little more of his thoughts on the issue in a lengthy Q&A in today's Boston Globe.

I'd like to highlight two of his answers. On the timing of wireless broadband, Murdoch said: "I would expect to have wireless broadband advanced in at least two or three cities before the end of this year, and then it might take two or three years to build it out across the entire country."

On using cash to make a wireless broadband acquisition, vs. saving cash by forming a partnership, he said: "Yes, but you have to contribute your part of the partnership. We're talking about a lot of money there. Otherwise, we'll continue to be opportunistic as before. Great opportunities occur around the world; we'll act on them."

After hearing those responses, it isn't clear whether it would be Clearwire or not. First, Clearwire has service in almost 30 markets today. It would easily be able to fulfill Murdoch's vision of building out two cities by the end of the year. But it would take a lot of money to be a partner with Clearwire, considering it has already raised nearly $2 billion in equity and debt.

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July 19, 2006 9:58 AM

Clearwire's legal woes

Posted by Tricia Duryee

VentureWire reported today that Clearwire's legal tussle over San Francisco Bay area spectrum took an odd turn Tuesday when a lawyer representing the community college district that the company has sued declared that its disputed spectrum lease had jumped in value from roughly $1.8 million to $18 million since it agreed to the deal seven months ago.

I detailed the battle first in this item. The Peralta Community College District had declined to lease the spectrum to Clearwire as it previously agreed to because, it said, Clearwire had failed to follow through with a couple of promises.

Like many educational institutions, Peralta had allotted chunks of the spectrum to Clearwire when its value was not deemed very high. Since then, Clearwire has started to roll out a precursor to WiMax wireless broadband Internet access.

VentureWire said attorneys on both sides said the 15-year lease agreed upon in December is worth $1.8 million. But during Tuesday's hearing in the Northern District Court of California, VentureWire reported that Harold Smith, an attorney representing Peralta, said: "We understand that these rights are worth approximately $18 million now."

That isn't surprising. A trademark of companies started by Craig McCaw, Clearwire's co-CEO, is that it buys up undervalued spectrum, finds a purpose for it, and creates a very valuable company surrounding it.

In its original complaint, Clearwire stressed how important the spectrum was to the company. It said that there was no additional spectrum available in the Bay Area, and it believed its competitors owned a significant portion of the rest.

At Tuesday's hearing, VentureWire said Judge Saundra Armstrong signed a preliminary injunction preventing Peralta from negotiating with third parties for the spectrum. A trial will be scheduled at a September conference, and could possibly get under way before the end of the year.

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July 13, 2006 11:53 AM

Clearwire sues Bay Area college

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire is suing Peralta Community College in Oakland to get the college to comply with a 2005 agreement that would allow the Kirkland-based company to roll out its wireless broadband services in the Bay Area.

Clearwire -- which already is providing wireless broadband as a precursor to WiMax in 27 U.S. markets -- needs the spectrum. It generally relies on spectrum leased from colleges and other institutions, or in some cases buys it.

The suit, filed June 16, says the lease is key to providing a nationwide service because currently, it believes that all the spectrum in the greater San Francisco area is subject to long-term leases. Clearwire says, in court documents, that Peralta holds two of the five groups of channels available. Clearwire has an agreement to use one.

"The lease for the Defendant's spectrum represents the entirety of the spectrum rights held by [Clearwire] in the Bay Area and, thus, the only capacity currently available to further its business goal of rolling out its advanced wireless service product in Oakland and the surrounding area."

Clearwire further notes that it believes that the remainder of the spectrum is owned by its primary competitor.

"The loss of the spectrum will prevent [Clearwire] from rolling out its advanced wireless product in the Oakland market. Exclusion from this key metropolitan market would further adversely affect [Clearwire's] ability to build out a 'nationwide' service."

The dispute started in April when Peralta Community College sent Clearwire a letter saying that it was terminating its agreement. Peralta's letter said it wanted to terminate the agreement because Clearwire had failed to provide key equipment or a major cash contribution of $250,000 as requested earlier.

Hard to say what will happen, but it seems clear that the Bay Area won't be getting service until this is resolved.

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July 6, 2006 5:26 PM

Portable wireless on the way

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Legendary wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw is at it again with his new venture Kirkland-based Clearwire.

Nothing more solidifies that notion than Wednesday's announcement that the company would receive $900 million from Intel and Motorola. As part of that deal, Clearwire also sold its equipment subsidiary for an unknown sum. In total now, the company has raised more than $2 billion.

But what may be more interesting to the average Joe -- and was only mentioned in one sentence in today's story -- was that the Clearwire service is launching soon in Seattle.

The company is rolling out an early version of WiMax, which blankets large geographies with wireless broadband service similarly to how Wi-Fi covers a Starbucks. It is an alternative to DSL and cable. It's not mobile, but if you don't mind lugging around a textbook-sized modem with you, it is portable.

Ben Wolff, who shares the title of CEO with McCaw, wouldn't say the exact date of the Clearwire launch, but he did confirm it would be coming up shortly. The service will not only cover the city, but stretch from Everett to Tacoma.

Prices vary, but it looks like right now, for basic service, it costs about $20 a month, marked down from $30 a month, for a year's contract. It's hard to get more details, but you can check out the company here..

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June 7, 2006 2:27 PM

Clearwire in the clear

Posted by Tricia Duryee

On Monday, we reported that the Hunts Point community on the Eastside would vote on whether Craig McCaw could roll out his new wireless broadband service in the area.

McCaw, who lives in Hunts Point along with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, has backed a number of wireless ventures after his McCaw Cellular Communications was bought by AT&T and turned into AT&T Wireless. He is at it again with Kirkland-based Clearwire, which has rolled out a wireless alternative to DSL and cable in nearly 30 U.S. cities.

Town Administrator Jack McKenzie said today the council approved the lease agreement on Monday. He said it is unknown when the service, a form of a technology called WiMax, will become available.

He added that the lease gives Clearwire the rights to have an antenna on a flagpole for $1,750 a month.

Clearwire filed for an initial public offering last month, with the intention of raising $400 million for operations.

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May 23, 2006 3:37 PM

Vonage's IPO trumps Clearwire's

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Vonage, which provides telephone services over broadband, said it has priced its initial public offering at $17 a share.

It is offering 31.25 million shares, meaning it will potentially raise more than $530 million. If it taps into additional shares being set aside for over-allotments, it could raise up to $610 million.

Shares of Vonage common stock will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VG. The offering is being led by Citigroup, Deutsche Bank Securities, and UBS Investment Bank, acting as joint book-running managers, and Bear, Stearns, Piper Jaffray, and Thomas Weisel Partners, acting as co-managers.

The amount of money is somewhat startling given Kirkland-based Clearwire's recent IPO filing. Clearwire, which is building out a wireless broadband network, said it will attempt to raise $400 million through a public offering. It has not said how many shares it intends to sell, or whether any will be set aside for over-allotments.

Analysts have compared the two companies with each other before. Both are attempting to take business away from existing telecom carriers, and both are trying to build well-recognized national brands.

Those two things definitely take a lot of bucks. But still, at least for now, it seems Vonage is mostly providing a service, whereas Clearwire also has to build costly infrastructure that resembles a cellphone carrier.

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May 11, 2006 10:53 AM

Clearwire files $400 IPO

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Wireless magnate Craig McCaw is taking Kirkland-based Clearwire public with a planned $400 million initial public offering, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

Clearwire, a wireless broadband provider operating in 27 U.S. markets and in Europe, would trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CLWR.

The prospectus filed today did not indicate how many shares the company plans to offer or at what price. Clearwire intends to use proceeds from the offering to expand its network and to acquire additional broadband spectrum, and for other general working capital purposes. The company declined to comment further on the filing.

For more, see today's Web story.

The two most recent stories we've written on Clearwire deal with two partnerships: one with AOL to resell its WiMax-like service; and one with Bell Canada to roll out voice over Internet Protocol to its 27 markets.

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May 4, 2006 10:13 AM

Clearwire and AOL

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire, the Kirkland-based company led by Craig McCaw, said today that it was partnering with America Online to offer AOL customers a wireless broadband service.

The service, to be called "AOL High Speed -- Powered by Clearwire," will be initially be available in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Stockton and Modesto, Calif.

The announcement is Clearwire's first major reseller partnership. Currently, the service can be purchased in company-owned stores and kiosks and through Best Buy in markets where it's available.

The service, which uses a WiMax-like technology and requires a modem, will be available for as low as $25.90 a month, the two companies said.

"Clearwire's wireless high-speed service brings a differentiated offering to AOL members moving to broadband," said Joe Redling, president of AOL's Access Business. "This innovative approach to broadband access offers consumers additional levels of freedom and flexibility in how and where they experience AOL's content and services -- and stands to be a promising feature for new consumer segments."

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May 1, 2006 10:53 AM

The other white broadband

Posted by Tricia Duryee

We get pitched stories a lot of different ways. Here's one approach that recently caught our attention:

"For a long time, people didn't think about pork much. It took a huge ad campaign and an ingenious tagline, 'the other white meat,' to generate a real awareness of pork. Right now, we're seeing a similar occurrence in broadband."

The pitch goes on to say that everyone has heard of DSL, cable and Wi-Fi, but only now are people beginning to learn about WiMax -- perhaps like how people needed an ad campaign to become more aware of pork.

The email is from Adaptix, a local company that's working on a mobile form of WiMax -- The other white broadband.

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May 1, 2006 10:28 AM

Clearwire ranked No. 2

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Broadband Wireless Exchange magazine has released the winners of its annual Top 10 Wireless Internet Service Providers survey, and Kirkland-based Clearwire is listed at No. 2.

If you look closely, though, you'll see that Clearwire is actually tied for No. 1.

The survey ranks wireless ISPs based on the number of subscribers using the service. It includes both Wi-Fi and proprietary WiMax-like technologies, but only fixed service, which require the user to have an antenna.

Clearwire, which is being run by Craig McCaw, is using a proprietary WiMax technology that is built by its subsidiary NextNet in Minneapolis and is available in almost 30 cities in the U.S.

The No. 1 company is MobilePro, which has one of the largest metro-Wi-Fi deployments, in Tempe, Ariz. MobilePro has 20,000 subscribers for its fixed service. But a closer look at the list reveals that Clearwire, ranked No. 2, also has 20,000 subscribers.

Robert Hoskins, the trade publication's editor and chief, said he wouldn't list Clearwire as tying, because the company wouldn't confirm its numbers. He said that's typical of McCaw, who likes to run under the radar. For example, Hoskins said that when McCaw first started McCaw Cellular Communications, he didn't let anyone know what his plan was.

"I think Craig McCaw doesn't want people focused on what he's doing," he said. "I guarantee he's laughing all the way to the bank."

The official winners' list is:

1. Mobile Pro
2. Clearwire
3. SpeedNet Services
4. Plateau Meganet Internet
5. Midwest Wireless
6. Mesa Networks
7. CommSpeed
8. AMA TechTel Communications
9. Prairie Inet
10. Camvera Wireless

Profiles of each wireless service provider can be found here.

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April 24, 2006 2:17 PM

Clearwire watch

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Clearwire quietly purchased Winbeam of Pennsylvania last week to expand its presence on the East Coast.

The Kirkland company run by Craig McCaw, the wireless guru who founded what later became AT&T Wireless, is quietly amassing enough spectrum to roll out WiMax-like service in many cities across the U.S.

To date, the company has rolled out wireless broadband in as many as 30 markets in the U.S. and more than 200 across the world. With the Winbeam acquisition, Clearwire now owns 2.5 GHz frequency spectrum in portions of Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Winbeam is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Clearwire.

"The combination of Winbeam's engineering expertise, executive team and spectrum coverage area complements Clearwire's deployment efforts," said Ben Wolff, Clearwire's co-president and chief strategy officer, in a statement released by Winbeam.

In the U.S., Clearwire owns or has rights to the second-most spectrum in this band, trailing Sprint Nextel. Clearwire is also working with Sprint Nextel to lease spectrum where it may have excess capacity. That's no surprise given McCaw played a huge role in turning around the once-troubled Nextel Communications.

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April 7, 2006 10:06 AM

CTIA: 3G and beyond

Posted by Tricia Duryee

In today's keynote, which featured three carrier executives from Orange, Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel, a debate ensued about what will come after third generation broadband networks are rolled out.

Sanjiv Ahuja, Orange's CEO, said he didn't want the industry to get ahead of itself. He said the carriers need to focus on 3G first and deliver a solid product to the customers before they look at installing networks with even higher speeds.

Cingular CEO Stan Sigman agreed. He said Cingular is supporting a ton of legacy networks and they are focused on people switching over to the newest networks to get the highest rate of efficiency of its airwaves it can get.

Sprint Nextel's COO Len Lauer disagreed. He said Sprint Nextel is committed to rolling out 4G and will make a decision as to what that technology will be by summer and then start rolling it out in 2008. One of the candidates for that technology is WiMax, a technology that is being used by Craig McCaw's new venture Clearwire in Kirkland. He said it will become important to roll out new networks as high-end applications like TV are adopted by customers.

"We believe the industry has been successful because of innovation. We are planning on rolling out 4G," he said.
Lauer also challenged Europe to come up with a solution for 4G so that there can be interoperability between the two continents.

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