Report Excerpt: Market Launches Keep Clearwire on Target

Carl Ford : 4G: For Generations to Come
Carl Ford

Report Excerpt: Market Launches Keep Clearwire on Target

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from our latest quarterly report on all things Clearwire, the CLEARWIRE NTK OCTOBER 2009 (need to know) report, available now for the low low price of $4.95. In this excerpt we talk about how Clearwire's on-time, on-target market launches in Atlanta and Las Vegas, as well as a host of smaller cities, have kept the company on target with its ambitious 2009 rollout plans. For the full report, order online here. Report excerpt follows:

Vegas, Atlanta and Silicon Valley - but where is Chicago?

Easily the most positive sign for Clearwire during the hot months was its on-schedule rollout of services in Atlanta and Las Vegas, the two bigger markets Clearwire had said it would launch during the summer -- and did. Perhaps catching many WiMAX watchers by surprise was Clearwire's August/September launch of an additional 10 markets for its new, mobile WiMAX services -- a list that included several small Texas towns like Lubbock and Abilene, as well as Boise, Idaho, and Bellingham, Wash.

The quick addition of the smaller markets was a pretty easy strategy to figure out if (like us) you had studied Clearwire closely. Since Clearwire has said many times that the hardest and longest task of launching any new market is getting its towers sited, approved and constructed, it stands to reason that any market where the company already had a tower position could be converted to the newer mobile WiMAX service pretty simply, with maybe an antenna change and some new networking gear on the back end.

At the end of September 2009 there were already reports surfacing about Clearwire quickly upgrading pre-WiMAX customers in some of its remaining 40 old-school markets, and on Oct. 1 the company "lit" two smaller markets (Milledgeville, Ga., and Salem, Ore.), while also making services available in Philadelphia.

Not as meaningful from a subscriber number but worth its weight in market influence was Clearwire's quick launch of its planned "testbed" network for developers in Silicon Valley, with separate clouds covering the campuses of Google, Cisco and Stanford University. Though some saw the testbed launch (which was announced back in May) as a public-relations stunt, from a business standpoint it seems to make perfect sense to put the service in front of folks who make up what is still arguably the world's foremost center of technological innovation and investment.

According to Clearwire, it will offer select subscriptions in Silicon Valley for free, while allowing any other developers in the area to sign up by joining the company's developer program, and then purchasing approved client gear for $50.

In commercial markets, Sidecut Reports was fortunate enough to be on hand, in person, for the "official" launch of services July 21 in Las Vegas, where we learned the following lessons: 1) Clearwire is going to be intensely local with its promotions going forward, which means that national roaming is not going to be a big selling point; 2) The company seems to be putting value ahead of mobility, which we think is a smart move since without a smartphone device,WiMAX isn't as sexy as, say, an iPhone 3GS or a Palm Pre; and 3) the company is going to enlist as many resellers as possible, from the very big (like Comcast and Sprint) to the very small (single-owner shops and mall kiosks) to help get the word out.

To get a feel for how this will roll out, consider the Clearwire sales footprint in the greater Las Vegas metro area: According to Clearwire, it only plans to operate five "branded" outlets in Vegas, including two storefront operations and three mall-based kiosks. The balance of the company's contracts will be sold by a list of 80-plus authorized resellers, including sales locations inside six Vegas-area Best Buy stores, 24 Radio Shack locations, and the rest independent resellers. The key for Clearwire is that all contracts will be with the parent company, and not resellers -- so no matter who signs a customer up, Clearwire will own the billing relationship.

For all the Clearwire knowledge you NEED TO KNOW for the latest quarter, order our CLEARWIRE NTK OCTOBER 2009 report today for just $4.95 -- that's right, less than five bucks for a lengthy take on Clearwire market launches, device plans, business news and more.

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