Clearwire COO Erik Prusch has been named as the company’s new CEO five months after former chief executive Bill Morrow resigned his post at the WiMAX operator, leaving the company in the hands of interim leader John Stanton.
Stanton will become executive chairman of Clearwire’s board of directors. Both executive posts become effective immediately.
Prusch will lead the company as it struggles to achieve profitability and address a long-standing cash crunch that has stalled plans to expand its network, as well as guide the company through its plan to add LTE to its network.
He also will have to navigate Clearwire’s rocky relationship with majority shareholder Sprint, which is the company’s most important wholesale customer.
“I recognize the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead,” Prusch said in a statement, adding that he was focused on the “critical tasks” needed to keep Clearwire on course.
Sprint recently signed a 15-year spectrum hosting deal with LightSquared, suggesting it is looking to get mobile broadband service independent of Clearwire. Sprint lacks the spectrum to deploy its own mobile broadband service and currently resells Clearwire’s WiMAX service through a wholesale agreement.
Clearwire warned in a recent quarterly report that Sprint’s deal with LightSquared “could result in Sprint eventually ceasing to resell our services, or greatly reducing the amount of our services they resell.”
Prusch first joined Clearwire two years ago as CFO, when he led efforts to raise billions in debt and equity funding from Google, Sprint, Intel, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. He took his post as COO in March during the executive shakeup that followed Morrow’s resignation.
Clearwire needs to raise $600 million before it can begin overlaying parts of its WiMAX network with a high-speed TD-LTE service it says will outpace the competition with peak speeds of 120 Mbps and average speeds of about 50 to 90 Mbps.
The company wants to lease out the new service to other operators that need more capacity for their LTE networks.