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Clearwire Aims for 31 Million WiMAX Subscribers by 2017

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US WiMAX operator, Clearwire which has been formed from the merger of the Clearwire and Sprint Nextel divisions expects to have some 1.3 million subscribers by the end of 2009 and 4.6 million by the end of 2010. The company is forecasting revenues of over $17.5bn by 2017, by which time the company expects to have around 31 million subscribers.

The forecasts were outlined by Clearwire CEO, Benjamin Wolf at an investor presentation yesterday.

"By merging Sprint's WiMax business with Clearwire, we have all the key elements to build the communications company of the future," said Mr Wolf. However, he emphasised that this would not be a joint venture subsidiary - but its own independent company, albeit with large shareholders.

Clearwire's chief strategy officer, Scott Richardson dismissed talk of LTE by pointing out that WiMAX would have at least a two year market advantage over the technology being pursued by Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and China Mobile, amongst others.

He projected an ARPU of $49 initially rising to $64 as new services are added along with a churn rate of about 2.9 percent.

Sprint and Clearwire hope to close their deal and begin building their new wireless network by the end of the year, but they must first win approval from the FCC and the Justice Department. Sprint has not yet filed its antitrust petition with DOJ, but Krevor said it will submit that confidential document in the next few days. An FCC spokesman said the commission has received the merger proposal and it is under review.

After closing, Sprint will hold the biggest stake in the new Clearwire at 51%, with existing Clearwire shareholders at 27% and the new investors, which also includes wireless veteran John Stanton's Trilogy Equity Partners, at 22%.

The new company secured $1.05 billion from Comcast, $1 billion from Intel, $500 million from Google, $550 million from Time Warner and $100 million from Bright House. But to appease concerns that Sprint might try to quash the new company's ability to compete with Sprint, Hesse agreed to give up day-to-day control to Clearwire's Benjamin Wolff, who will be CEO. McCaw is to be named chairman.

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