Clearwire Holdings


Clearwire Corporation (stylized as "clearw˙re" in the logo) is a wireless broadband Internet service provider (ISP) serving markets in the United States, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark (with Danske Telecom) and Mexico (via MVSNet). Clearwire was founded by cellular phone pioneer Craig McCaw in October 2003 and headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. Clearwire currently uses Expedience wireless technology, dubbed Pre-WiMax, transmitted from cell sites over licensed spectrum of 2.5-2.6 GHz in the U.S. and 3.5 GHz in Europe.

On May 7, 2008, Clearwire and Sprint Nextel's wireless broadband unit Xohm announced their intent to merge, combining Sprint's 4G WiMax network (Xohm) with Clearwire's existing pre-Wimax broadband network. Sprint will own 51% of the firm, with ex-Clearwire shareholders owning 27% - a consortium of Comcast, Time Warner, Intel, Google, and Bright House will invest $3.2 billion and own the balance. The new firm will retain the "Clearwire" brand and will sell 4G WiMax mobile broadband to Sprint as an MVNO, while Clearwire and the cable companies will buy 3G mobile broadband from Sprint as MVNOs.


In the U.S. Clearwire offers plans with downlink speeds of 768 kbit/s, 1.5 Mbit/s, and 2.0 Mbit/s, with an uplink speed of 256 kbit/s. In Ireland, Clearwire offers 1 Mbit/s, 2 Mbit/s or 2.5 Mbit/s download / 256 kbit/s upload. In Denmark, Clearwire offers downlink speeds of 512 kbit/s, 1.0 and 1.5 Mbit/s, with an uplink speed of 192 kbit/s. Clearwire also offers its own Voice over IP service, with support for T.38 fax communication, in some areas for an additional monthly fee. As with any ISP, the listed transfer rates are under ideal conditions; actual results vary greatly depending on factors such as service load, distance, and obstacles between the transmitter and receiver. Another factor is that available bandwidth is shared between users in a given radio sector, so if there are many active users in a single sector, each may receive reduced bandwidth.

Conceptually, wireless home internet service provides mobility and reliability between that of broadband handsets and wired broadband access. As such it may be especially appealing to users with first and second homes, both within Clearwire service areas. Conceptually, Clearwire Home Internet service can be described as a "transportable" Internet access solution.


Like internet telephone company Vonage, Clearwire has run advertising and promotional campaigns which have included airline tickets and low introductory rates offered to new customers with a contractual agreement.


The forerunner of Clearwire was an Arlington, Texas-based company then known as Clearwire Technologies, Inc. (owned by Clearwire Holdings). Clearwire Technologies was formed by a number of investors including Edward "Rusty" Rose, once a co-managing partner of the Texas Rangers. Clearwire Technologies raised at least $100 million and used it to acquire spectrum allocated to various educational institutions in the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) band.

Clearwire Corp. as it is now known was born when Craig McCaw's holding company, Flux LLC, acquired Clearwire Holdings in March, 2004. McCaw installed executives from his McCaw Cellular as the new Clearwire Corp. leadership.

Clearwire has grown from 1,000 customers in September 2004 to more than 443,000 customers across its markets, as of May 2008. Clearwire claimed in September 2006 that 20% of its markets have more than 10% penetration of households covered.

Clearwire took a $900 million infusion of capital from Intel and Motorola in July 2006, shortly after pulling its IPO. Clearwire's equipment manufacturer Nextnet Wireless was sold to Motorola as part of the exchange. This investment by the two industry giants has been reported as an attempt to accelerate the development and deployment of WiMAX networks worldwide.

An unspecified source claims that AT&T is/was selling Clearwire a slice of 2.5 GHz spectrum for about $300 million. The spectrum covers markets in the southeast of the U.S. and used to belong to BellSouth. The spectrum solidifies Clearwire's position as the second largest holder of 2.5 GHz spectrum after Sprint Nextel. AT&T had to sell the spectrum as a condition of its merger with BellSouth.

Clearwire and Sprint Nextel announced a partnership in July 2007 to accelerate deployment of WiMAX technology across the US, however, that was terminated at the end of 2007. The deal was to include a swap of spectrum and markets between the two companies, as well as providing roaming capabilities for customers traveling between the companies' networks. In 2008, Sprint's new CEO Dan Hesse started serious discussions about forming a joint venture between the two companies in the hopes of bringing in outside funding from Google, Intel and Best Buy. On March 26th, 2008 an anonymous source stated that Sprint and Clearwire may get as much as $1 billion from Comcast and $500 million from Time Warner Cable in financial backing.

Clearwire filed for its initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2006 and went public Thursday, March 8, 2007. The company's underwriters included Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase. Trading began March 8, 2007 under the ticker symbol "CLWR" on the Nasdaq. Clearwire offered 24 million shares at $25 a share, and raised approximately US$600 million. Craig McCaw is the largest shareholder with 65.4 percent of the company's Class B stock and he will have 24.8 percent of the Class A stock after the IPO. A class B share has 10 times the voting rights of a Class A share. Class A shares are the class traded publicly on the Nasdaq.


Clearwire customers must sign up for yearly contracts (one or two years). In the recent past, these contracts automatically renew themselves unless customers call to cancel them up to 30 days before their expiration. This policy was discontinued in November 2007, however any change in service will result in automatic renew of contract.

Violations of the terms of service and acceptable use agreements are often cited in the early termination of the accounts of customers. However, accounts are not terminated before three separate and distinct AUP/TOS violations. Peer-to-peer file sharing is a common cause. Early terminations due to AUP violations are generally subject to early termination fees.

Business tactics to acquire frequency in certain locations has also drawn heavy criticism. Clearwire sued Peralta Community College District over the district's move to terminate its spectrum leasing agreement with Clearwire.

Clearwire previously drew criticism for blocking internet phone operator Vonage's services. Clearwire also offers VOIP services.

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