Clearwire’s a bit of a funny compny. Sprint has a majority stake in them, yet they treat Clearwire like they’re some sort of distant relative that’s not really a relative at all. Thing is Sprint can’t actually function with Clearwire because Clearwire is responsible for delivering Sprint’s WiMAX network, the one that Sprint called 4G before Americans even heard the term 4G. Now the sad thing about WiMAX is that it doesn’t really deliver the kind of speeds that you’d actually call 4G. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network runs faster. Verizon’s LTE network is faster. Even AT&T’s insanely congested 3G network is faster. Clearwire clearly knows this, and they’ve said that they’re going to transition to LTE. Said transition doesn’t come cheap however, so the company recently tried to secure some funding by offering some shares. The market took the bait and Clearwire is now $715.5 million richer. It should be noted that Sprint is responsible for $331.4 million of that. Erik Prusch, the CEO of Clearwire, had this to say about the new round of funding:
“This equity raise is a critical step for Clearwire to achieve its long-term business plan of creating the first wide-channel TDD-LTE 4G network in the U.S. The added resources will enable us to continue delivering 4G mobile broadband service to meet the rapidly growing demand in the industry. We remain ideally and uniquely positioned to serve both wholesale and retail customers well into the future.”
So when will this network be up and running and just how fast will it be? Sprint’s saying that everything should be good to go by the second half of 2012. And as for the speed, back in January Clearwire uploaded a video showing a test LTE network they setup delivering 90 Mbps down and 30 Mbps up. Here’s hoping they can actually deliver on that, because the 5 Mbps to barely 10 Mbps on a good day they’re delivering now just doesn’t cut it.
That being said, how fast will Verizon’s LTE network be a year from now? More importantly, how much of America will it cover? It shouldn’t be underestimated how much catching up Clearwire and Sprint have to do right now.
[Photo above is of Sprint CEO Dan Hesse]