This Week's WiMAX News: More Reasons for Optimism

by: Ari Zoldan

Is the global economic outlook getting you down? Does the business section of your local newspaper depress you? Fortunately, there's hope, in the form of a quick Google search: there is plenty of news on WiMAX technology floating around the Internet this week, and most of it positive.

Our first item, from the Washington Business Journal, announces the final merger of Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) with Sprint's (NYSE:S) WiMAX business, Xohm. If you've had your doubts about the ability of Sprint to pull off a successful WiMAX network, this news might boost your confidence. Clearwire comes to the table with $3.2 billion in investments from a group of heavy-hitters in media and telecommunications, including Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Bright House Networks, and Time Warner Cable (TWC).

Though Sprint and Clearwire have both seen their stock prices decline further after the announcement of their merger, the final approval of the merger by Clearwire shareholders is a resounding vote of confidence in the long-term promise of WiMAX technology, bolstered by the significant investment of a consortium of industry giants. Google in particular has demonstrated a pattern of quietly rolling out products which offer the greatest convenience and value for the consumer, even when their development requires Google to expend more time, effort, and money behind the scenes. Though many analysts and commentators suspect that other 4G technologies will emerge as easier and cheaper options for companies to pursue, the support of Google and other industry leaders for the Clearwire/Sprint venture sends a message of belief in WiMAX as a strong business venture, worth pursuing with billions of dollars in investments even in the midst of a turbulent financial climate.

More recently, Airspan (AIRN) has offered up another positive news item, announcing that it has successfully demonstrated a seamless handover from one frequency band to another on a mobile WiMAX network in the UK. Airspan's demonstration of the ability of WiMAX devices to switch between frequency bands with no interruption in service will undoubtedly make WiMAX even more attractive – and affordable – for network operators, who will have the potential to build single networks of two or more frequency bands in order to expand coverage. Enhanced roaming capabilities may also make WiMAX mobile broadband more enticing for end users, which can only help carriers to market WiMAX technology as unique and ground-breaking, and to draw a clearer line between the promise of WiMAX and the lingering specter of failed efforts at providing long-range, high-speed wireless service.

Disclosure: Author holds long positions in all of the above-mentioned securities