Analyzing the Sprint/ClearWire Deal

ClearWire logoI’m trying to process the information coming out of the newswire and blogosphere regarding the ClearWire/Sprint story. For those unaware, an interesting batch of companies is coming out of the woodwork to contribute to the new company and in effect help build a wireless network. As Om points out, Google and Intel have contributed $1 Billion, $500 million came from Time/Warner and Comcast, and $100 million has been put out by Bright House Networks.

Speaking to VoipWatch’s Andy Abramson earlier today, we briefly discussed the interesting mix of companies coming together for this venture. I can see why Intel has jumped in as they have a large amount of capital invested into WiMax so they’ll do just about anything to see the technology prosper and be profitable.

However, considering ClearWire’s product is a fixed wireless alternative to other Internet service providers such as DSL and cable modems, what is Comcast and Time Warner’s interest in the deal? Why would these players want to present another option to their broadband Internet services? The only play I can think of is to be able offer a type of Internet service where their government-sponsored monopolies don’t exist. Or perhaps to offer cell phone service that is re-badged, like a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)?

With WiMAX’s new resurgence, it’s definitely as a player in the 4G space as an alternative to cell phone carrier’s upcoming LTE network. In the US, Verizon and AT&T have said LTE will be the technology of choice for their 4G networks. How will WiMAX shake things up?