Clearwire, the company tasked with taking WiMax mainstream in the U.S., reported a mixed fourth quarter Wednesday, but did manage to add 87,000 new retail customers to show that it is garnering some momentum. The company expects to triple its WiMax subscriber tally in 2010.
The company said it ended the fourth quarter with 688,000 subscribers, up from 475,000 a year ago (statement). WiMax, or 4G, subscribers totaled 392,000 at the end of the year. Clearwire is offering 4G service in 27 markets. If Clearwire delivers on its guidance it should be pushing nearly 1.2 million 4G subscribers this time a year from now.
Given Clearwire's aggressive rollout of 4G services and partnerships with the likes of Sprint, Time Warner Cable and Comcast the company should be able to show subscriber gains in upcoming quarters. Clearwire's 4G rollout really got up to speed in the fourth quarter.
The financial picture for Clearwire is still muddled. For the three months ended Dec. 31, Clearwire reported revenue of $79.9 million, up from $59.7 million a year ago. However, Clearwire had a fourth quarter operating loss of $417.6 million compared to $245.2 million a year ago. Clearwire's net loss was $98.7 million, or 55 cents a share. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 45 cents a share on revenue of $76.4 million.
For 2009, Clearwire reported a net loss of $325.6 million, or $1.74 a share, on revenue of $274.5 million.
In 2010, Clearwire expects to be able to cover 120 million people. The company plans to launch service in New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Meanwhile, Clearwire expects its 4G subscriber base to triple. The company plans to blow through $2.8 billion and $3.2 billion in 2010.