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Sprint In $1.5 Billion Clearwire Financing; Google Out

Google said it still supports Clearwire and will continue to help the WiMax provider by cooperating on products and strategy.
Clearwire reported Tuesday that it raised more than $1.5 billion from an investors group led by its majority owner Sprint Nextel as the wireless company seeks to keep its CLEAR WiMax service ahead of a coming nationwide launch of LTE by Verizon Wireless.

The transfusion appears to be enough to carry Clearwire through its nationwide rollout scheduled for next year.

Sprint is reported to be supplying $1.176 billion of the new investment, while Intel, Comcast, Time Warner, Eagle River Holdings, and Bright House Networks are chipping in the remaining amount, about $500,000.

The investors have all participated in earlier capital infusions for Clearwire. Conspicuous by its absence in the investors group is Google, which participated in a previous $3.2 billion investment in Clearwire.

Google has teamed up with Verizon Wireless, which began marketing Google Android-based handsets in recent days, and that could explain its absence from the latest Clearwire financing. Google, however, said it still supports Clearwire and will continue to help the WiMax provider by cooperating on products and strategy.

Eagle River Holdings, an investment company of Clearwire founder Craig McCaw, chipped in $20 million in the latest investment package.

Clearwire has a solid head start over Verizon Wireless' LTE. Clearwire has deployed its WiMax networks in several U.S. cities including Portland, Ore., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, is preparing to launch its high-speed LTE service in one fell swoop in 25 to 30 U.S. cities next year. Trials are scheduled to get underway in the coming weeks in Boston and Seattle.

Last week, Clearwire debuted its CLEAR service in a 1,000-square-mile area around Philadelphia and the move stands in bold relief to the agonies that Philadelphia underwent in years of trying and failing to launch a municipal Wi-Fi network in the city. In announcing the service Clearwire noted that the CLEAR 4G service not only covers a service area measured in miles, but delivers "average mobile download speeds of 3 to 6 mbps with bursts over 10 mbps."

In a statement, Andrew Kupiec, general manager of Clearwire in Philadelphia, said, "CLEAR is excited to bring to Philadelphia residents, businesses and visitors an Internet experience similar to what they're used to having at home or the office, anywhere around town or on the go."

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