Sprint Could Help Keep Clearwire Afloat

As WiMAX provider Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) builds out its national network, it’s going to need more money.

The company’s CEO, Bill Morrow, told Dow Jones Newswires earlier this week he wants to find new funding by the end of this year, and that the money likely won’t come in the form of a debt offering. A lot of Clearwire investors can’t be relied on, either, since they’ve had to write down their investments in the provider. But majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) says it will provide the money, if matters get that dire.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told investors at a Goldman Sachs conference this week Sprint is “clearly willing and able to step up to our fair share of whatever that funding requirement is,” according to IDG News Service.

“Our goal with Clearwire is just that they keep building out that 4G network very, very quickly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sprint seems to be the only Clearwire investor willing to help out in the finance department. Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) told attendees at the same conference it isn’t obligated to invest further.

Interestingly, Clearwire may be ditching the WiMAX standard for LTE.

Clearwire has been set on a rather maverick-like path in the United States by becoming the only major operator to choose WiMAX for 4G wireless broadband. The reasons for doing so include time-to-market advantages: WiMAX has been commercialized for sometime, while LTE won’t be deployed until next year.

But Morrow also said this week if LTE becomes the dominant 4G gear, handset and developer focus in the future, the company would be willing to convert to it to capitalize on economies of scale and gain other benefits, like roaming agreements.

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