Clearwire (CLWRD), which recently closed a $14.5 billion merger/funding deal with Sprint Nextel (S), Intel (INTC), Comcast (CMCSA), Google (GOOG), and others, is betting on a next-generation, ‘4G’ wireless technology called WiMax for high-speed mobile Internet service. But its competitors, including much larger rivals AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), and smaller rival T-Mobile (DT) are betting on a competing technology called LTE.
WiMax already exists today, whereas LTE won’t make it to market until late 2009 or 2010. But what happens if WiMax doesn’t take off — and LTE does? Clearwire could end up offering LTE service someday, CEO Ben Wolff said on a conference call.
Unstrung: Wolff made it clearer than ever that the company is definitely prepared to use LTE to provide broadband services in coming years, if need be. “We can’t ignore the fact that many of the operators around the world are talking about deploying LTE,” he said. “In the future, our network vendors will be able to deliver to us equipment that runs both mobile WiMax and LTE,” Wolff continued. “If LTE truly becomes a global standard, as WiMax has, Clearwire will be well positioned to provide LTE.”
Meanwhile, BusinessWeek summarizes some analysts’ latest concerns about Sprint Nextel: If Clearwire can’t build out its service fast enough, or can’t raise more money, Sprint — which is relying on Clearwire for the next-gen mobile Internet service it’ll offer its customers — could get screwed. Sprint shares rebounded 17% today after dropping 24% Monday.