US WiMAX operator Clearwire received a major fillip yesterday, announcing that networking giant Cisco is to be its national IP NGN core infrastructure provider and will also supply mobile WiMAX devices targeting consumers and enterprises. Cisco’s move marks its first major push into the WiMAX space. Cisco’s pledge to develop WiMAX devices is of particular significance to the market, as the world’s largest handset vendor, Nokia, recently pulled the plug on its sole WiMAX device. Clearwire currently offers mobile WiMAX services in Baltimore and Portland and is aiming to extend this to more than 80 markets across the US by the end of 2010.
Cisco and Clearwire are not strangers, having previously announced plans to work together on development of a WiMAX network in Silicon Valley aimed at encouraging software developers in the region to create new applications for the technology. No mention was made yesterday of specific investment from Cisco in Clearwire, although the WiMAX operator has already received a US$3.2 billion cash injection from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks. With the majority of the world’s mobile operators and vendors appearing to move towards LTE as their technology of choice for next-generation mobile communications, the support of Cisco could prove timely to the mobile WiMAX community. However, Clearwire remains bullish on its plans to create a national mobile WiMAX network in the US. It intends to spend up to US$1.9 billion on extending its network this year, and has made a number of high-profile executive recruitments. Ex-Vodafone Europe CEO, Bill Morrow, was named new Clearwire CEO in March, whilst the company yesterday announced new appointments in the positions of Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Information Officer, and Chief People Officer. Also yesterday, the company announced its first-quarter 2009 results. Clearwire posted a loss of US$71.1 million in the period, or US$0.38 a share, compared with a loss of US$76.4 million, or US$0.41, from a year ago. Sales rose 21 percent to US$62.1 million, with ARPU coming in at US$39.52. Clearwire hit 500,000 subscribers during the first-quarter.