Clearwire ups its ante for mobile WiMAX

Craig McCaw, who in 1994 sold his McCaw Cellular phone service to AT&T for more than $13 billion, now is buying spectrum from them‚Äö?Ñ?Æin the mobile WiMAX space.Clearwire is upping its ante in the mobile WiMAX space. This week the company agreed to purchase all of the former BellSouth’s leased and licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum from AT&T for a reported $300 million in cash.

The move comes as no surprise. During the FCC’s review of the AT&T/BellSouth merger last fall, Clearwire pressed the FCC to require sale of the spectrum as a condition of its approval and that’s exactly what happened.

What are the implications for muni-wireless?

Expect to see Clearwire carve a greater presence for itself–and WiMAX–in the muni market. Mobile services are becoming the name of the game in an increasing number of city RFPs that we are seeing and 2.5 GHz is one of two frequencies under which mobile WiMAX operates.

Clearwire already has one foot firmly planted in the municipal WiMAX market. The company beat out AT&T to win the deployment in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Clearwire founder, Craig McCaw, had been down similar paths before. McCaw built a fortune by buying up cellular spectrum in the 1980s, when we were still dependent on land lines, and sold it to AT&T in 1994 for more than $13 billion.

McCaw is presently in the midst of taking Clearwire public in an offering which, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, “could raise more than $500 million.”

Click here to read the story in the Puget Sound Business Journal.