Abundant spectrum driving Clearwire's mobile broadband strategy

LAS VEGAS--Clearwire's early 4G experiences prove that mass consumer uptake of mobile broadband is imminent and likely to overwhelm the spectrum holdings of traditional wireless operators, said Michael Sievert, the WiMAX operator's chief commercial officer.

"This would shake a lot of the traditional players in this industry. Clearwire today, just today at the very beginning of this movement, is serving our customers with an average of over 7 GB per month," said Sievert. He noted that figure represents usage by mobile customers of its Clear brand and does not account for mobile usage by customers of Clearwire's MVNO partners, Comcast, Sprint Nextel and Time Warner Cable.

"Once you give people 4G speeds, and speed up their [mobile broadband] experience by four, five, even 10 times what they've ever experienced before, they use it. This shouldn't shock us. We saw the same thing years before on the wireline side," said Sievert. He made his remarks yesterday during a fireside chat with FierceWireless Editor-in-Chief Sue Marek that wrapped up FierceWireless' co-located, day-long CITA event, The Path to 4G, held here in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference.

"We're going to be looking at a massive capacity opportunity in this country," said Sievert, claiming that Clearwire's "network of networks" strategy can help the industry satisfy burgeoning mobile-broadband requirements. "We want to be the company that other companies turn to in order to serve this massive demand that we all see unfolding."

Sievert cited as a bellwether Sprint Nextel's planned summertime introduction of the Android-based HTC Evo handset, which will enable access to Clearwire's WiMAX network as well as Sprint Nextel's 3G CDMA network. "Today we wouldn't leave the house without our cell phone," Sievert said. "Our company's view is that, sooner than most people probably appreciate, we're going to live in a world where people would just as similarly not leave the house without being connected to their broadband experiences."

Enabling mass consumer uptake of mobile broadband will require considerable spectrum capacity, something Clearwire has. Sievert cited a study that showed AT&T and Verizon Wireless each have about 80 to 90 MHz of spectrum in major U.S. markets, while Clearwire has an average of 150 MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band in those same markets, none of which must be dedicated to legacy mobile voice customers. 

Spectrum "is a scarce resource," Sievert said, "and when there's a scarce resource, the company with the most stands to have the biggest opportunity for disproportionate success and profits."

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