Sprint closes Clearwire buy; “Xohm” killed

Mon, 12/01/2008 - 7:35am
Brian Santo

Sprint Nextel’s purchase of Clearwire has been consummated, and one of the company’s first acts as a reconstituted venture was to kill the “Xohm” brand name. The new Clearwire’s WiMAX broadband service will be called “Clear.”

Investors Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks contributed $3.2 billion to finance the Sprint-Clearwire merger. The MSO partners expect to leverage Clear services to expand their own data service coverage.

Clearwire CEO Benjamin G. Wolff will continue in that capacity. Perry Satterlee continues as the company’s COO.

Sprint CTO and Xohm business unit leader Barry West has been named president and chief architect of Clearwire. Atish Gude, formerly senior vice president of Sprint's Xohm mobile broadband operations, is now senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Clearwire.

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast, said: "We look forward to providing our customers with exciting high-speed mobile products. Our customers want access to the most innovative products, both in and outside the home.  With our new partners, we will deliver integrated mobile high-speed Internet products for years to come."

Glenn Britt, president and chief executive officer of Time Warner Cable, said: "We connect our customers with entertainment, information and each other; any time, anywhere, on any device. Our investment in Clearwire will help us further that goal by adding value and creating a seamless Time Warner Cable experience."

Robert J. Miron, chairman of Bright House Networks, said: "Bright House Networks is proud to join this strong set of partners in Clearwire. We are enthused to be part of this advanced 4G wireless deployment bringing subscribers the highest throughput mobility solution on the market today."

At the closing, Sprint contributed its entire 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings to Clearwire.  With this combined spectrum portfolio, Clearwire now has 100 MHz or more of optimal 4G spectrum in most markets across the U.S.

Cellular pioneer and Clearwire chairman Craig O. McCaw said: “This is not simply about a time-to-market advantage, but about having an amazing block of spectrum that is unencumbered by legacy commercial uses and technology. It is a chance to do something right the first time, with simplicity and incredible efficiencies. We are building a wireless broadband network that will stand the test of both time and competition. This is far and away the most exciting opportunity in wireless I have seen since the beginning of cellular in 1983.”

Clearwire's board of directors will initially have eight members. Clearwire founder and wireless pioneer, Craig McCaw, is non-executive chairman of the board. Along with McCaw, other directors are Dan Hesse, Sprint's chief executive officer; Keith Cowan, Sprint's president of strategy and corporate development; John Stanton, chairman and chief executive officer of Trilogy Equity Partners and former chairman and chief executive officer of VoiceStream and Western Wireless; Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer of Intel;  Frank Ianna, former president of network services for AT&T; Jose A. Collazo, former head of BT Global Services and former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Infonet Services Corp.; and Dennis Hersch, former global chairman of mergers and acquisitions for JP Morgan. An additional five seats on the board are expected to be filled in the coming weeks.

Sprint has a 51 percent interest in the new Clearwire. Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks together own approximately 22 percent. Their shares are proportionate to their investments: Comcast invested $1.05 billion, Intel Capital invested $1 billion in addition to its previous investments made in Clearwire, Time Warner Cable invested $550 million, Google invested $500 million and Bright House Networks invested $100 million. 

An additional investment of $10 million is expected from Trilogy Equity Partners in the coming months. The fund was founded by former T-Mobile USA and Western Wireless’s chief executive John Stanton.

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