Feed on

A hat tip and thank you to my Economic of IP Networks List that has just begun its fifth year. I saw the following in email today. Sprint and Clearwire to Combine WiMAX Businesses, Creating a New Mobile Broadband Company

The language of the press release was glowing: (What follows are just the headlines of the release.)

Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to Invest $3.2 Billion in Combined Company, at Target Price of $20.00 per Share — Formation of New Company Brings Together the Nation’s Leaders in Communications, Technology Innovation and Entertainment — New Company to Speed Deployment of First Nationwide Next-Generation Mobile WiMAX Network — Transaction Designed to Unlock the Potential of Clearwire’s and Sprint’s 4G Assets — New Company to be Led by Seasoned Management Team from Clearwire and Sprint’s XOHM Business Unit; Board of Directors to Include Leading Wireless and Cable Executives

This did not sync with conversations I had in March with Peter Ecclesine of Cisco about 802.11y This link goes to the Wikipedia entry for 802.11y. I see now that it has been significantly updated since Peter first called my attention to it. It is well worth reading.

Consequently earlier today I asked my list: Any wireless folk or anyone else here willing to give their evaluation of this? i.e. the press release on Sprint and Clearwire’s new venture. I am trying to write up my Taipei research and have had other distractions - thus I admit that I have not dug into this to the degree i’d like to yet.

Is this viable because it uses licensed WiMAX? Most of Any wireless folk or anyone else here willing to give their evaluation of this? Is this viable because it uses licensed WiMAX? Most of WiMAX is licensed but not all? After Peter Ecclesine’s talk at the Cook-In more than one listener was ready to bury WiMAX, Presumably because of the alternative “licensing lite” and cognitive radio stuff 802-11y that Peter was talking about?

Is this for real or is it a prophalactic strike on the part of the WiMAX creators in an attempt to save it? Say in two years? Will there be essentially free alternatives around the time this new venture comes fully to market?

Within about two hours Harold Feld responded:

1) For Sprint&Clearwire: The universe has changed as a result of the 700 MHz auction. There is no question that AT&T and Verizon now rule the traditional wireless roost. Anyone hoping to get into mobile or stay in mobile if already there needs a strategy. So Sprint and Clearwire are desperate.

2) The cable guys also need a strategy against Verizon & AT&T’s ability to integrate wireline and wireless products. That’s not just about quadruple play to consumers, although there are elements of that as well. It is also about competing for enterprise customers and being able to respond if mobile becomes the primary growth market. In addition, Echostar’s acquisition of a serious footprint in the 700 MHz auction makes mobile television a much more likely market. While VZ and AT&T could respond relatively quickly to such a threat, Comcast and TW could not — despite their AWS spectrum holdings. Finally, with broadband maturing, and regulatory risk associated with the plans to monetize traffic by various tiering strategies, cable desperately needs an entry to the wireless world. When Spectrum Co. fell apart, Cox decided to go it alone (and did reasonably well in its effort to get a footprint). Comcast and TW have instead followed the usual path of cable wisdom and created a joint partnership. Share the risk, share the cost, and facilitate continued coordination among fellow cable operators.

3) Google lost its nerve in the 700 MHz auction. Now it finds Verizon is already playing games in C Block. They need someway to get a toehold into mobile before all the customers get grabbed. This is a much cheaper way of getting into wireless than actualy owning and operating a network, or even holding licenses and leasing spectrum.

4) Intel has already invested bilions in WiMax. Someone better start using it big time or they are in deep doo-doo.

So the parties all have incentive to make this real and make it work. But it still has a number of major hurdles to overcome, including the radically different business models and psychologies of the participants. That’s why I’m waiting to see what the FCC applications for license transfer actually say.

Relevant blog posts: Reserving Judgment on Sprint Deal

Spring Spectrum Fling http://www.wetmachine.com/totsf/item/1128

The 700 MHz Auction and the Cable/Telco War

A few minutes later Peter Ecclesine added: Here are Opinions on Clearwire deal from Deutsche Bank and Scott Moritz who is quoted here as saying “Building a network for one tenth the cost depends on who is counting.” Also, you might include the URL of the Clearwire slides

Finally Frank Coluccio offered a summation of this entire process:

This is the link to the MOMA web site on this theme.

Note the first section on this page (URL above) devoted to John Sealy-Brown’s: Thinkering

“Many designers, scientists, and artists have turned to design to give method to their productive tinkering, or what John Seely Brown has called “thinkering.” They all belong to a new culture in which experimentation is guided by engagement with the world and open, constructive collaboration with colleagues and other specialists. Whether in the form of origami, nanofacture, or growth and aggregation, thinkering gives shape to the embryonic dialogue between design and science.”

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