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Cable might cut ties with Clearwire

Fri, 02/17/2012 - 2:37pm
The Associated Press

Clearwire, which runs a wireless data network used mainly by Sprint customers, says it may need to raise more money because it doesn't know how much revenue it will be able to pull in from a fourth-generation mobile broadband network that it's building, and from its existing mobile WiMAX Internet network after 2013.

The company also disclosed in the filing that it may lose some or all of the sales it receives through Comcast and Time Warner Cable this year because of the companies' deals with Verizon Wireless. Clearwire said the wholesale subscribers from Comcast and Time Warner made up less than 5 percent of its total wholesale subscribers as of Dec. 31.

Sprint resells access to Clearwire's WiMAX network as "Sprint 4G."

The company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that it had about $1.11 billion in available cash and short-term investments as of Dec. 31 after selling stock and debt in the past few months. It doesn't expect cash flow from its operations this year and said it believes it will need to raise "substantial additional capital" to fund its business beyond the next 12 months.

The company said it is unsure how much more money it will need, but that the main factor in determining that amount will depend on how much money it receives from Sprint for its services.

Sprint agreed to use Clearwire's new 4G network back in December. The announcement had been a lifeline for Clearwire, whose WiMAX network has been bypassed by all phone companies except Sprint.

Clearwire said that how much money it needs depends on whether or not it successfully constructs and completes its LTE network to meet Sprint's requirements and how much Sprint uses its WiMAX network after 2013. The company said it has become increasingly dependent on its wholesale partners, particularly Sprint.

Clearwire said that it is looking at various options for securing more money, which could include asset sales or making some more equity securities offerings.

Clearwire's deficit at year's end was about $1.62 billion. It had 914 employees at that time.

Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint owns 54 percent of Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire.

Clearwire shares were unchanged in premarket trading. The stock closed down 11 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $2.25 on Thursday. It's lost 57 percent in the past 12 months.

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