Clearwire In the Fray

Wireless upstart Clearwire Corp. has found a new way to cut the cord with a telephone service using a broadband fixed wireless network it has built in 27 midsized metro markets in the United States.

Clearwire Internet Phone Service is now being marketed in Stockton, Modesto and Visalia, Calif., and in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Carson Valley, Nevada, offering a flat-rate $29.99 service with the standard ante of VoIP features including unlimited local and domestic calling to emergency 911 call capabilities.

Clearwire’s rollout of wireless-broadband Internet service in the past year now reaches 27 metro markets, covering cities such as Jacksonville, Fla., Abilene, Texas and Duluth, Minn.

The company also took a major financial step last week, filing plans for an initial public offering of stock, seeking to raise $400 million.

Founded by wireless maverick Craig McCaw, Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire owns a raft of spectrum licenses in the 2.5 Gigahertz band in midsized metro markets, on which it has built up a wireless network.

Clearwire Internet service uses a non-line-of-sight wireless technology developed in part by its NextNet Wireless subsidiary. It delivers a maximum connection of 1.5 Megabits per second to the customer and 256 Kilobits per second from the customer to the network via a wireless modem, which links to the customer’s computer via an Ethernet cord.

The broadband service is priced at $30 to $37 monthly depending on the market, plus a $5 monthly modem rental.

The new VoIP rollout is limited to customers who take the Clearwire Internet service. With a $15 phone adapter module that plugs into an existing phone and the Clearwire wireless modem, voice customers receive unlimited calling in the United States and emergency 911-call capabilities, plus features ranging from caller identification to voice mail and three-way calling.

Clearwire turned down repeated requests for an interview to discuss the rollout.