AT&T was noticeably silent about its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile during the CTIA Wireless 2011 tradeshow last week, but on Wednesday the company’s CEO, Randall L. Stephenson, took some time to discuss potential public benefits of the purchase. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Stephenson argued that by purchasing T-Mobile, AT&T will increase capacity by 30% immediately while simultaneously increasing network reliability. AT&T predicts that network traffic could grow 5-8 times from where it is today over the next 5 years, and that kind of growth would require more spectrum capacity than is currently available. According to PCMag, Stephenson also said that the purchase would allow AT&T to cover 95% of the United States with a 4G network. When asked whether the purchase would create a AT&T/Verizon Wireless duopoly, Stephenson pointed to major markets where there are often five or more carriers to choose from, such as New York. That doesn’t include wholesale retailers such as Clearwire or LightSquared, both of which have signed on to sell Best Buy Connect branded 4G networks. Similarly, Stephenson stated that in Detroit, San Francisco, and in Miami, among other places, T-Mobile isn’t considered the No. 4 carrier. That kind of competition, Stephenson believes, will push prices down for consumers. Stephenson admitted that the acquisition could result in some job losses as the two companies integrate, but believes that the end result will be a “net job grower.” More →
Best Buy Connect — Best Buy’s mobile broadband arm — on Monday announced that customers can now sign up for 4G service. The 4G data service, which was launched through a wholesale agreement with Clearwire, is an option for customers purchasing one of Best Buy’s 23 supported laptop models from Asus, Samsung, Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba, and Best Buy Connect provides all the service and support. Unlimited access to the 4G WiMAX network will set you back $45 each month with a two-year contract or on a month-to-month basis. If you sign up for a two-year contract, however, Best Buy Connect will waive the $35 activation fee, and Best Buy will knock $150 off the price of “select hardware devices.” Best Buy says that users can sign up for the 4G service nationwide, however access to the 4G WiMAX network is only available in the 70 U.S. markets where Clearwire offers it. Just last week Best Buy announced a new agreement to sell LightSquared’s 4G LTE service under its Best Buy Connect brand, although it’s unclear when that network will be offered. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
According to analysts at Gerson Lehrman Group, Sprint is already in the process of transitioning to LTE. In an analysis published Wednesday, the firm claims knowledge of “project leapfrog,” allegedly Sprint’s codename for the buildout of a new LTE network that will take place over the next several years. “Sprint has initiated project leapfrog with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung to upgrade its network to LTE while also removing iDEN base stations and fully utilizing its 800MHz spectrum,” the report states. “This three year project is designed to leave Sprint with a competitive, nationwide LTE network while reducing operating costs.” The report follows earlier news that Sprint plans to finally shift the business it gained in acquiring Nextel off of its old iDEN network and onto its CDMA network. More →
WiMAX network operator Clearwire is the target of a new lawsuit that has been filed out of a Seattle district court. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs allege that Clearwire “throttles down the speed of its Internet service to speeds similar to dial-up telephone modem speeds,” and likens the company’s business practices to “a bandwidth Ponzi scheme.” Customers who are not satisfied with the speeds provided by Clearwire’s self-proclaimed high-speed internet are forced to pay early termination fees. “Clearwire made materially false, misleading, and/or deceptive representations and omissions about the speed and capacity of its Internet service,” reads the court filing. “Rather than limiting its subscribers to a number that its broadband infrastructure can accommodate — such that Clearwire can make good on its representations regarding high-speed service and capacity — Clearwire signed up many more subscribers than it could handle so as to maximize revenue and profit.” The embattled network operator now faces false advertising claims from fifteen plaintiffs seeking class action status. Clearwire has been in news headlines over the past several months as it tries to negotiate a usage agreement with WiMAX network partner Sprint.
Clearwire on Thursday announced that CEO and director of the board Bill Morrow will resign effective immediately. Morrow cites personal reasons for his resignation and he will continue to serve as an advisor to the company while the interim CEO, chairman of the board John Stanton, transitions into his new role. “I would like to commend Bill for his tremendous leadership in building the first U.S. 4G network, adding more than 5 million subscribers, and raising funds in a challenging economic environment,” Stanton said in a statement. “Bill built a strong leadership team which enables us to promote Erik Prusch and Hope Cochran to new roles. Together, the entire management team at Clearwire remains focused on delivering value to its customers and shareholders.” Two other top Clearwire executives, Chief Information Officer Kevin Hart and Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert, will be leaving the company as well. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
Sixteen WiMAX operators from around the world convened in Taipei this week to draft an international roaming agreement for their 4G networks. The WiMAX Forum Global Operator Summit, as it is being called, had just shy of seventy representatives working on the deal. Global roaming is projected to be a $67 billion business by 2015.
“The WiMAX Forum Global Operator Summit was created to specifically address overcoming both business and consumer perceptions that data roaming is expensive, and to explore ways to help operators grow revenue,” said Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum. “WiMAX has an established ecosystem with nearly 600 deployments around the world. The opportunity for operators to offer their customers roaming is there, and it is an excellent way for operators to add another viable revenue stream and earn returns on their 4G network investments.”
Representatives from both Sprint Nextel and Clearwire attended the event. Full press release is after the break. More →
Today, the FCC gave Novatel Wireless’ MiFi 4082 the U.S. Government’s official seal of approval. What makes the 4082 unique from other MiFi devices, you ask? The addition of a WiMAX radio of course. The device will sport a CDMA radio capable of 1xRTT and EV-DO data along with a more attractive, 4G-ish, WiMAX option. If we had to venture a guess, we would expect to see the 4082 hit wireless carrier Sprint sometime in January of 2011.
[Via Phone Scoop] More →
Last month, we reported on the short-term liquidity problems on the horizon for WiMAX network operator Clearwire, and today, the company has announced measures aimed at rectifying its current situation. Clearwire plans to raise over $1.1 billion through the sale of debt securities in “private placement transactions.” As the press release reads:
Clearwire Communications is offering $175.0 million first-priority senior secured notes due 2015, $500.0 million of second-priority secured notes due 2017 and $500.0 million of exchangeable notes due 2040 and will grant the initial purchasers of the exchangeable notes an option to purchase up to an additional $100.0 million of exchangeable notes.
The securities will be offered to “qualified institutional buyers” only and note-holders will be paid-out in either cash or stock once the paper hits maturity. Recently, the “4G” network operator cut close to 15% of its workforce in order to conserve cash.
U.S. wireless provider Sprint — whose WiMAX enabled devices run on Clearwire’s airwaves — owns 54% of the network operator. Sprint declined to comment on the planned sales. More →
Early this morning, WiMAX network operator Clearwire announced the availablity of its 4G network to residents of Sacramento, California. “Whether as a critical link for the Pony Express or for the first transcontinental railroad, Sacramento has long been at the forefront of this country’s ever-growing need to communicate. With today’s launch, Sacramento reinforces its historical position as a communications hub and becomes the anchor to Clearwire’s 4G network in the Central Valley,” said CLEAR’s regional GM, Allan Lamb. The Sacramento installation adds another 1.2 million potential customers to Clearwire’s portfolio.
UPDATE: Sprint has posted a press release indicating that their 4G service — which runs on Clearwire’s network — is also available to its customers in the Sacramento market [Read]. More →
FierceWireless is reporting that U.S. wireless carrier Sprint and its WiMAX-network partner Clearwire have entered arbitration over the monthly rate the latter company charges for WiMAX enabled smartphones on its network. Currently, around 810,000 Epic and Evo handset owners use their device in areas where Clearwire’s service is unavailable. Despite this fact, the WiMAX network provider continues to charge Sprint a monthly fee for the devices existence.
According to the report, Sprint filed for arbitration on October 29th of this year to resolve the dispute. As most Sprint, WiMAX-enable handset owners know, the wireless company charges a $10 monthly premium for its 4G handsets whether the service is available or not; there is no information available that indicates the $10 tariff could be reduced or dropped if the arbitration were to favor Sprint. Allegedly, Sprint pays Clearwire $4.46 per 4G-handset user.
“If we are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of these issues, we end up agreeing to an amount less than what we expected, or the arbitration process is not resolved in our favor, we could end up receiving substantially less in future wholesale revenues than we expect or for which we have planned,” said Clearwire.
“We do have an agreement between the parties,” added Clearwire Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert. “What we have right now is a difference in the interpretation of it.”
The news comes on the heels of a dismal Q3 earnings call where the company announced a 15% reduction in work-force to help “raise short-term funding.”
It will be interesting to see how this one pans out and how, if at all, it affects the monthly charge Sprint passes on to its 4G handset owners.
[Via PhoneScoop] More →
Today, during their Q3 2010 earnings call, WiMAX network operator Clearwire announced that it would be slashing 15% of its workforce and instituting several “cash conservation measures” in an attempt to raise “short-term funding.” As the earnings brief reads:
While the Company is cautiously optimistic it will resolve its short-term funding needs in the near future, there can be no assurances. Thus, it is implementing a series of significant cash conservation measures to reduce costs, including: a substantial reduction in sales and marketing spending, a suspension of additional retail channel market launches of the CLEAR-branded operations in select markets including Denver and Miami, delays in the introduction of CLEAR-branded smartphones, a substantial reduction in the contractor workforce, a 15% reduction in the number of employees, and the discontinuation of development activities for sites not required for its current build plan. The Company currently has thousands of sites in various stages of planning and construction beyond its current build plan, and it intends to suspend zoning and permitting in a portion of those sites until such time as additional funding becomes available. These contemplated initiatives are intended to result in potential cost savings of between $100 million to $200 million in 2010 and again in the first half of 2011.
That certainly doesn’t sound good. We contacted Sprint for comment — as their 4G network depends on Clearwire — and they were kind enough to provide us with a statement. Hit the jump to read Sprint’s take on Clearwire’s situation. More →
T-Mobile does not have a 4G network. Sprint, which first launched WiMAX in June of 2009, does not have a 4G network. Verizon Wireless will flip the switch on LTE later this year and when it does, it will not have a 4G network. AT&T is taking its time with LTE and it won’t fire anything up until next year. When it finally does, AT&T will not have a 4G network.
“4G”, as we now use the term here in the United States, is marketing speak. Carriers have devalued it to the point where it simply doesn’t make sense to fight it anymore… but I’m going to anyway. More →
Today, Sprint announced that its WiMAX, 4G network is officially open for business in six additional locales: New York; New York, Hartford; CT, New Haven; CT, New Brunswick; NJ, Trenton; NJ, and Tampa; FL.
“Sprint has provided customers with 4G service since 2008 and we’re proud to extend our leadership to six more cities today, including New York City,” said Sprint’s president of 4G, Matt Carter. “Sprint is the first national wireless carrier to make 4G a reality for our customers and with the addition of these six new markets we are now in 61 cities, including Chicago, Baltimore and Houston, and are growing. By the end of the year Sprint 4G plans to light up several major new markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Denver and Washington DC to name a few.”
If you’re in the Big Apple, or any of the other aforementioned markets, fire up your 4G device(s) and let us know what kind of speeds you’re seeing. More →