Thursday, 08 May 2008 06:01

Big names back new WiMAX operator

By
Several well-known IT and communications companies are behind Clearwire, a new company that plans a nationwide WiMAX network.

The existing Clearwire Corporation and Sprint Nextel are combining their wireless broadband operations into the new company, which is being backed to the tune of $US3.2 billion by Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks.

If the plan goes through, Sprint will have a 51 percent stake in the new Clearwire, current Clearwire investors will hold around 27 percent, and the remainder will go to the new strategic investors.

The WiMAX network is expected to cover between 120 and 140 million people in the US by the end of 2010.

Several supplementary agreements have been put into place with the strategic investors. Intel will promote the use of WiMAX chips in Centrino 2 notebooks and other mobile Internet devices, Google will develop various services and applications for mobile WiMAX users as well as being Clearwire's search partner, and Clearwire will support the Android platform on future devices.

In addition, Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks will retail the new Clearwire WiMAX services, while Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and the new Clearwire will be able to offer their customers bundled services including Sprint's 3G wireless voice and data offerings.

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Executives of the companies involved talked up the deal.

"For Sprint shareholders, this is an opportunity to unlock and bring visibility to the value of our significant spectrum assets, technology and expertise, by leveraging the technology, applications and distribution strengths of our investors, who together command nearly a half- trillion dollars in market capitalization," said Dan Hesse, president and chief executive officer of Sprint.

"Google is a firm believer in supporting new ways for people to access the Internet," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer and chairman of Google. "We are proud to invest in the new Clearwire alongside several leading technology and communications companies, and we believe that its planned WiMAX network will increase the ability for users to get high-speed broadband anytime, anywhere."

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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