Clearwire: We'll Have $17.5 Billion In WiMax Revenue By 2017

Clearwire gave investors a peek at its future recently. If you ask me, the peek was too far into the future. Reaching <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN1241590520080612?rpc=44">$17.5 billion in WiMax revenue by 2017</a> is nice, but what will the picture look like in 2010 or 2011? Not so rosy.

Eric Ogren, Contributor

June 12, 2008

2 Min Read

Clearwire gave investors a peek at its future recently. If you ask me, the peek was too far into the future. Reaching $17.5 billion in WiMax revenue by 2017 is nice, but what will the picture look like in 2010 or 2011? Not so rosy.I am really beginning to wonder what sort of future WiMax really has. With AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all choosing LTE (Long Term Evolution) for their future-generation wireless networks, the industry has chosen a de facto 4G standard, and it isn't WiMax. In a perfect market, WiMax would compete with LTE, but in reality, LTE will be far more pervasive and power many millions of devices more than Clearwire will.

Let's look at some of Clearwire's numbers. It says it will blanket 220 million U.S. residents with WiMax by 2017. That's just over two-thirds of the current U.S. population. Clearwire says it will have 60 million to 80 million people covered by 2009. Conversely, LTE will likely blanket just as many, if not more, than 220 million by 2017. Heck, LTE will have that much coverage by 2011 or 2012. Clearwire says that of the 220 million people covered in 2017, it estimates 30.8 million will subscribe. That's an uptake of just 14%. That number should scare the pants off investors. Just 30.8 million WiMax users by 2017? Users of LTE will number in the billions worldwide much sooner than 2017.

Clearwire also says it will make $60 to $65 per month from those 30.8 million customers. You mean to tell me people will still be paying more than $60 per month for mobile broadband services in nine years? No way! Mobile broadband costs are $60 today! I expect that expense to go down over time, not remain consistent (not factoring in inflation, of course).

I don't know how the investors, who have forked over some $3.2 billion already, feel about this outlook, but I am not hopeful.

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