Clearwire will launch at least eight markets in 2009

During its fourth quarter 2008 earnings call today, Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff remained guarded about the exact number of markets the WiMAX provider will launch this year, but rattled off a list of at least eight markets where he said he expects the Clear-branded service will make its debut. Those markets include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas/Ft. Worth. In addition, the company will convert existing pre-WiMAX markets in Seattle, Honolulu and Charlotte to mobile WiMAX and expand the coverage area in Baltimore, which is a Sprint Xohm market that will be converted to Clear.  

The company also reported consolidated revenue of $20.5 million. Average revenue per user was up 10 percent to $39.70, up from $36.09 in fourth quarter of 2007.  The number of VoIP customers also doubled from 10 percent in in the year-ago quarter to 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. The company added 5,000 net new subscribers for a total subscriber base of 475,000.  Churn was 2.8 percent, up from 2.4 percent in the prior year's quarter.

Here's a breakdown of the other key points from the announcement:

Markets: By the end of 2010, Wolff said that the Clearwire network will cover 120 million covered POPs and that will include markets such as New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston and San Francisco.  However, he also added that the company does not need to expand to 100 markets for it to succeed. Nationwide roaming is not a requirement for success, he said, adding that the company will launch a dual-mode WiMAX/CDMA 1xEVDO modem this summer that will let customers roam on Sprint's 3G network when out of the Clearwire service area. 

Devices: Wolff talked about a "personal" hotspot device that will launch at the end of the month that will combine WiMAX and WiFi and he said that there will be at least 100 mobile WiMAX devices--including laptops, netbooks, handhelds and USB modems available to customers by year-end.  

MSOs and other resellers: Expect the cable companies and Sprint to begin selling WiMAX services in the second half of the year. Both are collaborating with Clearwire on product development.

Backhaul: The company says that 70 percent of the Las Vegas and Atlanta markets will use microwave technology for backhaul because it is much cheaper than using terrestrial backhaul.

Cash: Wolff says the company is managing and conserving its cash so it can go until 2011 without additional funding. The company expects to spend between $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion this year.

For more:
- See this press release

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