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Clearwire Notches Subscriber Gains, 4Q Loss

The wireless carrier expects its 4G WiMax network to cover up to 120 million people by year end.

Poised to aggressively roll out its 4G WiMax wireless service, Clearwire reported strong subscriber gains in its fourth quarter even as the its quarterly loss neared $100 million.

Clearwire, majority owned by Sprint Nextel, said its growth of 87,000 retail subscribers outpaced growth in its first three quarters combined. Clearwire has a head start over Verizon Wireless, which is preparing to launch its LTE 4G network later in the year. Clearwire noted that it is expecting considerable help for its "network of networks" from its cable TV investment partners.

"We now provide the underlying capability to Comcast, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable to serve the growing demand for mobile broadband services," said Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow in a statement. "And we are well positioned to expand our wholesale business even further." The quarter's revenues grew to $79.9 million from $59.7 million in the previous year's fourth quarter when a loss of $90.4 million was reported.

With several locations already outfitted with its mobile WiMax technology, Clearwire said this year it will add new urban areas including New York, Boston, The District of Columbia, Houston, the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, Minneapolis, and Kansas City.

It expects to cover up to 120 million people with 4G service by the end of the year. The service will be offered via the company's CLEAR brand as well as by strategic wholesale providers Comcast and Time Warner.

The company got another boost recently when it reported plans to have a dual-mode 3G/4G smartphone available this summer -- well ahead of any LTE handset likely to be available from Verizon Wireless.

Early unconfirmed reports suggest that the handset, to be manufactured by HTC, will use Google's Android platform. In advance of handset availability, 4G service is being provided through data cards and USB dongles.

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