Clearwire Files For $400 Million IPO

Craig McCaw’s latest venture, the wireless ISP Clearwire, has filed for a $400 million IPO to use to build out its network and for other purposes. The company would probably rather not you look at their financials, of course, as they’re nowhere near turning a profit, and their subscriber growth (about 20,000 new users across 27 US markets in the first quarter, even less in Europe) really doesn’t look so hot, either. The future of wireless broaband services is pretty bright, but Clearwire’s current offerings don’t look like much of a winner. Its real differentiation at this point is simple availability over wired broadband services, as it’s focused on lower-tier markets that may not get the same attention from wired providers as more lucrative markets. This may work for a while, if they can attract subscribers to their service, but in areas where there’s competition from DSL or cable, Clearwire’s relatively low speeds (1.5 Mbps) at similar or higher prices aren’t too attractive. The company’s S-1 says it plans to “enhance portability” by offering PC card modems and embedding modems in other devices like PDAs and phones — but the section makes no mention of the upgrades that would be necessary for its pre-WiMAX network to actually provide mobile, rather than just portable, service.

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