It’s official. The combination of Sprint Nextel’s WiMAX properties with Clearwire is completed, and the new company will brand its services as “Clear.”
In a conference call this morning, Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff said the company fully understands it is the underdog and that many larger companies aspire to do what it does, but Clearwire has some distinct advantages, including its vast spectrum holdings, all-IP network technology and open Internet business model.
The transaction was officially completed on Friday, creating a new independent company that received $3.2 billion in cash from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks. The terms were basically the same as those previously announced earlier this year.
Clearwire has pre-WiMAX networks in 46 markets and plans to upgrade them in 2009. It has a mobile WiMAX network in Baltimore, Md., and expects to start adding mobile WiMAX customers in Portland, Ore., this month with a full commercial launch early next year. The company also is asking consumers to e-mail it with areas where they’d like to see Clearwire build out.
Wolff said the company also is taking steps to make sure the network is future-proof, and given that LTE and WiMAX have a lot in common, he suggested it’s possible that Clearwire will use both WiMAX and LTE several years down the line. The WiMAX versus LTE technology decision isn’t the technology war that some have made it out to be, he said. “This isn’t a case where one technology will win and one will lose,” he said.
The company chose the Clear brand because it’s a simple, commonly used word with significance in communications and part of the company’s name, he said. The company also unveiled a new marketing tagline, “Let’s Be Clear,” that will be used in conjunction with the new Clear service brand in upcoming market launches.
In a press release, Clearwire Chairman Craig McCaw said Clearwire is building a broadband network that will stand the test of both time and competition. “This is far and away the most exciting opportunity in wireless I have seen since the beginning of cellular in 1983,” he said.
Wolff will continue to serve as Clearwire’s CEO, and Perry Satterlee continues as the company’s COO. Barry West, who served as Sprint’s chief technology officer and Xohm business unit leader, is now president and chief architect of Clearwire, and Atish Gude, formerly senior vice president of Sprint’s Xohm mobile broadband operations, is now senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Clearwire.