(CLWR) Clearwire to Launch LTE Later

Clearwire Corporation (CLWR), which offers mobile and fixed wireless broadband communication, services to retail and wholesale customers in the U.S. may defer its TDD-LTE 4G network rollout plan as the company will loose Comcast Corporation (CMCSA), another major strategic partner from its board.

Major companies like Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), Bright House Networks, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Intel Corporation (INTC) own majority of shares of Clearwire with Sprint Nextel being the largest shareholder with 48.1% stake.

However, in recent times most of its strategic partners like Intel, Google and Time Warner Cable have already sold their respective stake to Clearwire while Comcast will be the latest to join the bandwagon by selling its 6% stake to the company.

Google and Time Warner Cable invested $500 and $550 million respectively in 2008 but exited with $66.5 million and $73.3 million in 2012. Clearwire has formed a venture combining its infrastructure together with the wireless network of Sprint to install a nationwide mobile phone and broadband Internet network using the 4G WiMAX technology. However, WiMAX gradually lost its charm among the customers with the competitive 4G LTE technology becoming more robust apart from offering faster downlink.

Consequently, Clearwire venture continues to become a loss making unit. Moreover, in July 2012, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Bright House entered into an agreement with Verizon Wireless to sell their respective AWS spectrums, which they bought in an auction in 2006 and simultaneously these cable companies entered into a reseller agreement with Verizon Wireless to receive 4GLTE service for its subscribers, thereby reducing the need for a 4G Wimax service from Clearwire.

In order to stay in the race, Clearwire plans to build its new TDD-LTE 4G network by the beginning of 2013 and cover 5,000 LTE footprints by first half of 2013. In addition to these, the company will also receive a series of prepayments amounting $350 million from Sprint over a two-year period if Clearwire meets certain LTE deployment target by June 2013.

Despite loosing of major strategic partners during the course of its new 4GLTE launch, such series of prepayments from Sprint coupled with a huge cash base of $1.2 billion and availability of huge wireless spectrum license will continue lend support to the company to meet its future goal.

Currently, Clearwire has a Zacks#2 Rank, implying a short-term Buy rating on the stock.

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