Former Clearwire CEO Prusch: Sprint will have advantage with 2.5 GHz spectrum

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Former Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch said that Sprint (NYSE:S), which bought Clearwire last summer, will be able to set itself apart from its rivals thanks to Clearwire's trove of 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Former Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch netmotion

Prusch

Prusch was just named CEO of NetMotion Wireless, a key player in the enterprise mobility management market. In an interview with FierceWireless said he expects to "get onto a very high growth curve" for the business and that he hopes to work with enterprises to help scale their mobility businesses, which will drive growth for NetMotion. However, Prusch also fielded questions about Clearwire, where he served as CEO from August 2011 until it was sold to Sprint last summer. Prusch was COO and CFO at Clearwire before becoming CEO.

Since acquiring Clearwire, Sprint has announced plans to use the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum for a nationwide TD-LTE deployment, much more expansive than the hotspot network that the companies had originally envisioned. The spectrum is one of the key ingredients to Sprint Spark, the carrier's tri-mode LTE service. Sprint is aiming to deploy LTE on the 2.5 GHz airwaves to 100 million POPs by the end of 2014 to complement planned deployments of 250 million POPs on 1900 MHz LTE by mid-2014 and 150 million POPs covered with 800 MHz LTE by the end of 2014.

Prusch noted that 2.5 GHz spectrum actually has an advantage over low-band spectrum in dense urban markets because it can carry much more data at higher rates, a key capability as carriers cope with increasing data traffic. "Through time ... a number of players missed out on the opportunity to not only expand but gain competitive advantage over other networks," he said.

"I'm sure that's one of the reasons [SoftBank CEO] Masa[yoshi Son] wanted to buy Sprint and one of the reasons Sprint wanted to buy Clearwire," Prusch said.

Sprint won control of Clearwire after a protracted bidding war with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and unrest from Clearwire's minority shareholders, events that pushed Sprint's initial $2.97 per share bid for Clearwire to $5 per share.

"We were able to improve the price and deliver greater value to shareholders," Prusch said. "I'm proud of that work that we did."

Only two of Clearwire's top executives remain within the transformed Sprint, which itself is now owned by Japanese operator SoftBank. The two remaining executives are Dow Draper, Clearwire's former senior vice president and general manager of retail, who is now president of Sprint's prepaid operations, and John Saw, Clearwire's former CTO, who is now Sprint's senior vice president of technical architecture.

Former Clearwire executives who are no longer with Sprint include: Prusch; CFO Hope Cochran; Broady Hodder, senior vice president and general counsel; Scott Hopper, senior vice president of strategic business development; Andrew Macaulay, senior vice president and CIO; Don Stroberg, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and wholesale; and Beth Taska, senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

For more:
- see release

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