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Clearwire Gains Intel Cash, Sells Tech Unit

The flight plan for maverick Craig McCaw’s Clearwire appears to be changing with word that Intel’s investment arm is pumping $600 million into the broadband-wireless venture, even as it sells off its technology-development unit to Motorola.

Both developments have also prompted Clearwire to withdraw a planned $400 million initial public offering that it filed for in May.

Intel Capital is funneling $600 million into Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire -- part of a $900 million investment round that also includes a cash infusion from Motorola Ventures.

Clearwire has been launching wireless Internet and voice-over-Internet-protocol services in 27 tier-2 cities where it holds 2.5-gigahertz wireless spectrum. It offers service using a homegrown, pre-WiMAX broadband-wireless technology developed by its NextNet Wireless subsidiary.

Clearwire is now selling off NextNet to Motorola, which will become Clearwire’s primary gear supplier. Motorola will work with Intel to develop NextNet’s technology toward the WiMAX standard.

“We look forward to accelerating the benefits of WiMAX low-cost, high-speed wireless Internet access to consumers around the world,” said Greg Brown, president of Motorola’s networks and enterprise business. “Our acquisition of NextNet furthers Motorola’s strategy to continue to expand and profitably grow our wireless-broadband business and furthers our efforts in seamless wireless-broadband mobility.”

For Clearwire, linking itself to two powerful electronics suppliers and moving its technology toward a multivendor, standards-based scheme may improve its bottom line.

“These agreements mark a significant milestone for Clearwire,” co-CEO Ben Wolff said. “We believe there is strong demand for wireless-broadband connectivity that is simple, fast, reliable and affordable. Working together with Intel and Motorola to deploy mobile WiMAX technology will provide us with the benefits of a standards-based platform, which will further enhance our efforts to address this demand.”