News Analysis: Clearwire elects wireless pioneer and former T-Mobile CEO John W. Stanton as its new board chairman. Stanton was a prot??«g??« of his predecessor, Craig McCaw, and is a major force in the cellular industry in his own right.
Clearwire announced Jan. 8 that wireless industry pioneer
John W. Stanton, already a member of Clearwire's board, will be its new
chairman. Stanton succeeds another
industry pioneer, Craig McCaw, in that position.
already owns a wireless holding company based in Kirkland,
Wash., (which is where Clearwire is based)
that runs wireless systems in Latin America and in the Caribbean.
Stanton was responsible for
rebuilding much of Haiti's
wireless network infrastructure following the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
What's notable about Stanton,
in addition to his roots at the beginning of the cellular industry, is his
reputation as a dealmaker. Stanton
was responsible for the sale of VoiceStream Wireless to Deutsche Telekom and
its transition into T-Mobile USA. He served as T-Mobile's CEO
until he brought in the recently departed Robert Dotson as his successor. Stanton's
wireless companies use both GSM and CDMA services, and he is well-versed in the
international aspects of wireless operations.
over as chairman following the abrupt resignation from that position by McCaw
on Dec. 31. McCaw's
at the time seemed to open
the way for an investment
in Clearwire by T-Mobile USA's parent Deutsche
Telekom, a move that had been previously rejected prior to a shakeup of
Clearwire's board. Previously, the Clearwire board had been heavily populated
by executives from Sprint, which is Clearwire's dominant investor.
However, with Clearwire facing money problems, and Sprint
declining to increase its current level of investment, Clearwire needed to look
elsewhere if it was to continue expanding Sprint's WiMax network and to be able
to deploy the LTE
it's currently testing in Phoenix.
T-Mobile badly needs a true 4G solution to expand its network and grow its
customer base. While it's been calling its HSPA+ network a 4G solution, the
company needs to grow beyond that in the long term.
Without another major investor, Clearwire has had no
alternative but to sell
some of its vast spectrum holdings
to raise money. While this might work in
the short term, the amount of spectrum that Clearwire can afford to sell
without limiting its ability to deliver 4G is finite. The only real hope for
Clearwire's success is an investor that needs Clearwire as much as Clearwire
Enter T-Mobile USA.
While the company has had great success selling its HSPA+ network as an
alternative to the 4G offerings of Sprint and Verizon Wireless, it's ultimately
still a 3G solution. It's a very fast solution, given that it's delivering
significantly higher speeds than the 4G competition. But in the long run,
T-Mobile needs an
to make a full-scale move into 4G. The company has been
testing LTE in Europe for a couple of years, and has
been conducting limited LTE tests in the United