by Lisa Pierce
Prior to yesterday’s announcement concerning the formation of the new Clearwire, it was becoming increasingly evident to us from both an opportunity and cost perspective that Sprint’s near term objectives for Xohm’s should be refocused — less initially towards serving the needs of high end mobile consumers — and more towards the needs of enterprises — particularly those with small sites who would like to ‘cut the cord’ on ILEC T1 access. That a number of technical issues would have to be worked out to meet this aim is certain. But demand for such connectivity — especially from a nationwide provider — is sky high. Moreover, Sprint’s share of enterprise networking is small; this type of offer could provide it with an important impetus for growth.
The substance of yesterday’s announcement does nothing to diminish business customers’ needs for alternatives to incumbent strangleholds, but it does raise more questions than answers about the ability of the new entity to serve their needs. Based on its cast of owners, the new Clearwire is decidedly focused on consumers. Despite this, it’s possible that Intel and Sprint together could exert the necessary influence to prioritize funding modifications to make WiMax enterprise-class. But whether this will occur soon is unknown. Should this type of opportunity be missed, it only reinforces the dominance of the current AT&T-Verizon duopoly.