Government Technology
By Bradford Bowman: National Broadband Plan, Identifying Assets, Creative Solutions, Strategies & Alliances

Monetizing the Middle Band EBS - The Clearwire Opportunity

March 15, 2011 By Bradford Bowman

Clearwire's opportunities are dwindling when it comes to defining it's own path for sustainability. Sprint, the majority owner of Clearwire is just sitting back waiting to see what wholesale price they will get on the 152MHz of LTE ready Educational Broadband Service (2.5 GHz EBS) spectrum that Clearwire has the rights to nationwide. Or Sprint/T-Mobile could just buy Clearwire out, assume the $290M per year EBS license holder lease payments, and migrate the commercial EBS spectrum to LTE. And while support for a Sprint/T-Mobile merger is out there it is unclear as to where Clearwire, through possible ownership restructure of the Company, will stand when all is said and done.

One option that Clearwire has is to fully exploit the synergies available between the Educational Broadband Service (2.5GHz EBS) spectrum they have the rights to and the booming education technology market that is growing exponentially within the United States. Companies like Pearson and Monster (other potential Clearwire wholesale partners) are carving out their own niches in education technology and newcomers like News Corporation, and their new Education Division are investing in education applications and technology coming to market through companies like Wireless Generation (News Corp equity investment of $360M in this company)

Of course their is Microsoft who can drop immense dollars towards education reform in this Country - and VC's like Tomorrow Ventures, an investment arm for Google's Eric Schmidt, who is buying up/funding and inventorying mobile educational service applications that will catalyze how students, teachers, parents and administrators interact, learn, train, and exchange data using 21st century educational infrastructure. All of these players would love to have access to revenue from wireless infrastructure to offset costs associated with delivery of their respective educational applications and services... perfect Clearwire partners if they plan to move their wholesale model forward.

If Clearwire took the traditional carrier blinders off and saw the alliances and strategies available to them in a changing educational ecosystem they could really take hold of a huge emerging education technology market that represents economic recovery and sustainability for the U.S., workforce development/jobs creation and overall improvement of our education system.

A good starting point would be to coordinate and promote use of the Middle Band EBS wireless spectrum in the build out of a nation wide interoperable educational broadband service network.

During the first week in March NEBSA (National EBS Association) held their yearly conference in which hundreds of educational agencies attended. These entities represent our regional EBS spectrum license holders from whom Clearwire leases most of their spectrum. The breakout sessions introduced specific educational applications that would allow EBS license holders to better serve their growing commuter and off-campus populations with broadband access to critical course related materials, Mentor/Protégé programs, campus security, expand the collaborative efforts between area K-12 schools, students and teachers and continue the development of new wireless services that are critical to education reform in the United States.

This is where the opportunity lies for Clearwire as a Company. Let Sprint, T-Mobile, Comcast and Time Warner haggle through their future commercial offerings using the EBS spectrum and while they are doing that Clearwire could tap a huge educational market in need of infrastructure to support education reform programs like Race to the Top and a revamped Universal Services Fund. This market easily represents one third of the Country and through a conscious and differentiating business and revenue model Clearwire could capitalize to the extent that they would define their own destiny in the wireless carrier market.

They had already started to do this through a partnership with Mobile Citizen and the Instructional Telecommunications Foundation but it seems that this program has fallen off a bit based upon dated news coming from Mobile Citizen. This is probably due to lack of cash on Clearwire's balance sheet... and the economy in general, but the premise is there.

[From Mobile Citizen] "Mobile Citizen provides the most advanced, reliable and secure mobile broadband service exclusively to education and non-profit organizations at remarkably low cost. Unlike other broadband services, Mobile Citizen’s wireless broadband is powered by WiMAX, a 4G technology from Clearwire Corporation, the country’s leading mobile broadband network provider. So schools and nonprofit's, students and mobile workers will enjoy reliable and secure access to the Internet, wherever they may wander, wherever their work, or their homework takes them."

Herein lies a new Clearwire conscious business model in which they could fully monetize the Middle Band Segment (42MHz) of the EBS spectrum and really make a name for themselves as a partner in education reform. Bring in the likes of News Corporation's new Education Division and Wireless Generation and you have potential News Corp funding and a working model going forward. And all of this compliments Clearwire's wholesale model.

Newspapers and Education

Another compliment to Clearwire's wholesale model are newspaper publishers. A dedicated and revenue generating infrastructure for digital delivery of publisher content would be ideal. 4G advancing media publishing is a natural marriage. Newspapers have plenty of subscribers, too. And when you tie in synergistic educational and regional employer group content you have a formula for economic recovery and sustainability within the region.

Case in point was when I wrote a piece called "4G to Become the New e-Printing Press - Saving the Newspaper Publishing Industry" back in June of 2009. The title speaks as to the content of the piece. Schurz Communications publishes eleven daily and eight weekly newspapers in medium and small markets with a combined circulation of nearly 225,000. Digital Bridge (partner with Clearwire) provides broadband wireless to small and medium-sized communities of up to 150,000 people nationwide through using the 4G technology standard. As a result Digital Bridge and Schurz Communications partnered

In the end this will all hash itself out over the coming months. The most plausible scenario is that Sprint and T-Mobile will come together... and Clearwire has the opportunity to support and build large scale education infrastructure through the very EBS license holders (and their EBS spectrum) that got them to where they are today.


Leave a comment

Clearwire On Track by Providing Leading Edge Innovative Educational Infrastructure

March 4, 2011 By Bradford Bowman

This weeks NEBSA (National Educational Broadband Service (EBS) Association) conference at the Trade Winds Resort in St. Petersburg, FL. illustrated a refreshing new outlook for Clearwire when it comes to helping our community EBS licensees and educators. Many EBS license holders boasted about how Clearwire has helped them to fulfill upon new and reformative educational applications and innovations through the use of the EBS spectrum that Clearwire leases, mostly from educational entities.

This individual was very pleased to see that Clearwire continues to donate equipment like WiMAX enabled laptops and dongles to help cash starved EBS licensees address the needs of ubiquitous Digital Access, Inclusion and Literacy programs for low-income families and students that qualify and are in need of high speed wireless broadband. And this could catalyze conscious business practices beyond the means of large incumbent carriers that is their traditional revenue and business models.

Gerry Salemme, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Policy, and External Affairs at Clearwire Corporation gave an excellent presentation on "The Road Ahead for EBS" in which he stated unwavering support for the ongoing educational mission of EBS license holders and their constituency. He was unable to comment on rumors surrounding transition and future operating models of the commercial EBS due to ongoing negotiations with majority Clearwire owner Sprint or resellers Comcast, Time Warner or Bright House Networks - or even the possibility of a Sprint/T-Mobile merger that may be in the works.

Regardless of all the rumors it seems pretty evident that Sprint and T-Mobile US need a 4G LTE strategy moving forward, and the EBS spectrum could play a pivotal role - but what possible ownership restructure of Clearwire will take place remains to be seen.

Clearwire continuing to get funded would be a huge lift. They are going to have to look towards strategic alliances and funding from partners outside of traditional carriers (or their original investors) to help them to sustain and grow the company.

One such strategic alliance may lie with that of News Corporation. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp ($56 billion company) recently announced the formation of a new Education Division. They hired away Joel Klein, who was Chancellor of the NYC School System, to run the new News Corp Education Division (ED). The new ED's first move was to purchase 90% equity ($360 million) in a company called Wireless Generation. Wireless Generation, Inc. “provides computer-based formative assessments, Web-based reporting, data analysis, and instructional planning tools to PreK-12 educators. The company offers mCLASS software, which enables teachers to use handheld devices for formative assessments in the elementary grades; and Burst:Reading, a K-3 reading intervention that is used to analyze assessment data and produce sequences of lessons for students.”

These types of applications go hand-in-hand with educational reform criteria being introduced through the ARRA "Race to the Top (R2T)" program which pumped out $4.35 billion in grant money to 12 states. It goes without saying that a dedicated ubiquitous high-speed mobile and fixed core wireless infrastructure would go a long way in supporting all the criteria encompassing education reform through Race to the Top initiatives – not to mention services for our local governments, public safety, non-profits, etc. The Clearwire EBS is well suited to compliment and provide infrastructure for all of this.

To take this alliance a step further News Corp could partner with Clearwire to provide newspapers and magazines the ability to transition seamlessly to digital delivery of their content. This would open up a huge subscriber base for Clearwire and News Corp while providing a ubiquitous interactive content delivery platform for all newspaper or magazine publishers.

Overall I have to say that Clearwire is starting to see the advantages of new levels of collaborative partnerships in education reform and core infrastructure to support the transition. All newer components, apps and innovation that will be borne from education reform, and the technology to support it, will become the primary catalyst for regional and community workforce development, job creation, innovation and economic recovery and sustainability in the United States and around the world.

Leave a comment

Sprint Bailing on WiMAX - Moving to LTE Makes Sense

February 16, 2011 By Bradford Bowman

There's a lot of talk on the street about Sprint's plans if they decide to bail on Clearwire's WiMAX network. There is a definite plan in the works and it has a lot to do with migrating the 152MHz of upper and lower band Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum to LTE.

Sprint has said it will make an announcement in around six months surrounding possible transition from WiMAX to LTE. By that time we should know what is going to be happening with Clearwire -- who has the rights to the EBS spectrum in almost all large US metro markets. This time frame is also consistent with the likely extension of the FCC's mandated EBS "substantial service" deadline from May 1, 2011 to November 1, 2011 filed for in mid February 2011. This will allow more time for mostly rural EBS license holders (educational entities) to meet safe harbor requirements and keep their EBS licenses.

Clearwire's spectrum lease expense is upwards of $290 million per year. Clearwire has stated recently that they are moving away from retailing their service and will be a wholesaler to not only Sprint but Comcast and Time Warner also. Assuming a wholesale ARPU (average rate per user) of around $4.50 per sub they will need over 64 million subscribers just to break even on the spectrum lease expense not even taking into account normal operating expenses.

Sprint is almost to that number with 52 million subscribers. A merger with T-Mobile US, with their 31 million customers, would put them over the top as far as covering the spectrum lease expense. And with Comcast and Time Warner needing a mobile wireless strategy going forward, their combined 84 million customers (some are already on Sprint's network) would be the gravy.

So where does this leave Clearwire (or CLEAR), the Company?

Clearwire will probably end up going away. The departure (resignation) of Clearwire Founder/CEO Craig McCaw on December 31, 2010, for no apparent reason, on the heels of three Sprint executives' stepping down from Clearwire's Board might indicate that new Clearwire ownership structure is on the horizon.

With mobile wireless (4G LTE) at the forefront of federal, state and local government agendas (Obama's new Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative), and private sector agendas, it seems that a restructure is imminent and makes a whole lot of sense.

Comcast and Time Warner need a mobile wireless strategy going forward, T-Mobile US needs LTE ready spectrum and Sprint needs to stay competitive and grow their business. There is plenty of 2.5GHz EBS spectrum to facilitate this restructure (see diagram below)

Note: Verizon and AT&T only have 10x10 MHz LTE configurations available whereas the EBS LTE offers 76MHz in both the lower and upper EBS bands.

Sprint is in the driver's seat at this point with 54% ownership of Clearwire. The Sprint/Comcast/Time Warner model has been in the works for some time. New player T-Mobile US is knocking on the door. Who else can step up? How about Sony and News Corporation.

Two big companies with deep pockets. Sony just recently inked a deal with IPWireless to develop 4G technologies for delivery of their content. Murdoch's NewsCorp just go into the Education Business with the creation of NewsCorp's new Educational Division and their first acquisition was an educational wireless applications provider. NewsCorp could also take the reins and help to transition the newspaper/media publishing industry from print to digital. Learn more here >>

I wrote in detail about opportunities, strategies and new alliances that Sprint could invite into their camp that would bolster their brand by putting them into the Education Infrastructure Business using the asset they will ultimately control... the LTE ready Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum.

Who will end up the winner here? End users. By tapping into the educational infrastructure markets and customer base Sprint could make significant gains in subscriber acquisition or transition subscribers from Verizon and AT&T, keeping costs down for us users. And when we talk of shortage of spectrum in the US, maybe just better allocation and use policy would alleviate some of those false innuendos. This is a topic of future debate based upon policy change.

Clearwire / Sprint - Opportunities, Solutions, Strategies and Alliances


Leave a comment

Clearwire / Sprint - Opportunities, Solutions, Strategies and Alliances

February 14, 2011 By Bradford Bowman

Opportunities, Solutions, Strategies and Alliances borne from the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative (WIII) Program

Probably the most intriguing of opportunities that exists with the current ecosystem of wireless broadband in the United States is that of the relationship between Clearwire and Sprint. Clearwire stated recently that they are moving away from retailing their service and will be concentrating on wholesaling use of the Educational Broadband Service (2.5GHz EBS) spectrum they have leased from educational entities throughout the country... that means their biggest customers (and Clearwire investors to this point) will be Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner.

Current Clearwire Investor Breakdown:

Click for larger view in new window 

There is a total of 194MHz of EBS spectrum available through the EBS band nationwide. And Clearwire has the lease rights to most of it (especially in larger, metro markets). With Sprint eyeballing additional funding for Clearwire's wholesale model and build out of more infrastructure to promote and sell Sprint's 4G EVO I can't imagine why Sprint would not want to get into the Educational Infrastructure Business.

Here's why. It's a "Race to the Top"!

As the #3 carrier in the US Sprint has endeavored just to stay alive and maintain that position. Going up against Verizon and AT&T, especially with newer 4G LTE service now being introduced through these behemoths, will be a challenge. If Sprint maintains their "just another carrier" mentality, they will be just that... another service provider.

The Education Business is booming... and what does Sprint have access to? The Educational Broadband Service spectrum. So why not use that asset, and fully exploit the true and intended use of this asset to grow the Company?

The educational market, demographic and potential subscriber base is huge. Almost 1/3 of the Country, if not more. It represents students, student households (parents), school districts, colleges, universities, administrators, associations, unions, etc. And this demographic, or potential customer base, represents the true means and catalyst towards economic recovery, investment and sustainability in the USA.

And Sprint, as an Educational Service Provider, can roll right in on the heels of Obama's WIII, the ARRA Race to the Top program and a revamped Universal Services Fund. All they need to do is look at the Northern Michigan University EBS network model and the amount of positive outcome a replicated model of that could benefit the Country but more importantly, in Sprint's eyes, improve their brand.

EVO = Education, Victory and Opportunity. That's my best stab at the re-creation of the Sprint EVO 4G brand.

Idea # 1 - So here is how Sprint does it.

Step # 1 - Dan Hesse (CEO of Sprint) needs to get on the phone with Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch's News Corporation ($56 billion dollar company) just launched a new Educational Division (ED). This new division is being run by Joel Klein, who was hired away as Chancellor of the NYC School System.

The first investment of NewsCorp's new ED was the purchase of 90% equity in Brooklyn based Wireless Generation (deal worth $360 million). Wireless Generation, Inc. “provides computer-based formative assessments, Web-based reporting, data analysis, and instructional planning tools to PreK-12 educators. The company offers mCLASS software, which enables teachers to use handheld devices for formative assessments in the elementary grades; and Burst:Reading, a K-3 reading intervention that is used to analyze assessment data and produce sequences of lessons for students.”

What does Wireless Generation (WG) need? A dedicated wireless infrastructure in which they can share in revenues generated. This moves their revenue model from supplying devices and app's to monthly subscriptions for their service... hence the Clearwire/Sprint network. This also means that WG can just give these app's away (conceivably) as the revenue model has shifted.

How else can NewsCorp and Sprint work together?

Well how about NewsCorp sub-leasing Sprint (Clearwire) network access to newspaper publishers? There is absolutely no doubt that the newspapers we read every day will transition to digital delivery. No one realizes how important these newspapers are to our communities... until they close their doors because they just can't afford to print them any more. This is a two-fold benefit... the newspaper publishers keep their doors open (and jobs are saved, transitioned) and the environment benefits (save the trees). Another benefit is that the newspapers can really open up different forms of content and advertising models (e.g. citizen journalism, educational tools, streaming video... you name it).

Oh... and these newspapers have subscribers. Clearwire/Sprint would also have access to this subscriber base.

I wrote a piece called "4G to Become the New e-Printing Press - Saving the Newspaper Publishing Industry" back in June of 2009. The title speaks as to the content of the piece. Schurz Communications publishes eleven daily and eight weekly newspapers in medium and small markets with a combined circulation of nearly 225,000. Digital Bridge (partner with Clearwire) provides broadband wireless to small and medium-sized communities of up to 150,000 people nationwide through using the 4G technology standard.

As a result of this article came the announcement "DigitalBridge Communications Announces Strategic Investment by Schurz Communications, Advancing 4G Media Opportunities". I had also received an email, prior to the announcement, from Schurz VP of Digital Media stating "... what you described in June was transformative. Might change the current vector of things. So, yes, we are becoming 4G service providers with DBC. We prefer 4G to WISP, as WISP harkens fixed, slow speed, wireless. This is much more Clearwire like. We plan to announce in 2 weeks. Thanks for your early thought on the idea. It was really affirmative early on in our discussions."

I hope the same thing happens with Sprint and NewsCorp.

The funny thing is that Clearwire probably heard about this through their ties to Digital Bridge and did not see the opportunity here. Their wholesale model should include the publishing industry as one of their most opportunistic and immediate revenue sources.

Step #2 - Contact Sony Corp. Why? Sony has money and they just inked a deal with upstart IPWireless - a 4G equipment provider and developer. According to the press release “Sony and IPWireless engineers will work together to develop key new technologies to enhance and expand the potential of LTE and other 3GPP (4G) technologies with the goal of contributing these new specifications to the 3GPP standards and beyond. These R&D initiatives will blend Sony’s capabilities for delivering rich user experiences and groundbreaking consumer innovation with IPWireless’ unparalleled expertise in developing 3GPP mobile broadband and broadcast technologies.”

This means migrating the EBS spectrum to 3GPP Release 8 LTE standards, the same as Verizon and AT&T (see Idea #2 below)

One would think that Sony Corp would have performed extensive due diligence before inking a deal with IPWireless considering the abundance of equipment providers that are out there.

There’s a lot coming out of the IPWireless camp these days that Clearwire or Sprint should take notice of. 4G development partnerships with Sony, Samsung, Huawei, Northrop Grumman, Altair Semiconductors, IMB Accessories for iPhone™ and iPad™, 700MHz Public Safety and even self-contained modular network systems that can operate using the 2.5GHz EBS spectrum that Clearwire has the rights to. Every EBS license holder that may be in jeopardy of losing their EBS license (May 1, 2011 EBS "Substantial Service" drop dead date) should have one of these modular EBS "service-in-a-box" systems dropped off on their doorsteps.

How about a pilot project in Brooklyn, NY? Everybody's there. Clearwire infrastructure, IPWireless & Northrop Grumman have launched a NYC public safety network using just 10MHz of the 2.5GHz EBS, Wireless Generation is there... get NewsCorp (they own the Wall Street Journal & New York Post) and Sony to pay for it... there ya go.

What does all this lead to? Two partners with deep pockets looking to 4G. A new operating and revenue (share) model that promotes a brand working towards the ideals of "conscious capitalism". And Sprint as a major competitor to Verizon & AT&T, keeping costs down.

Idea #2 - (@ Clearwire) Migrate the 2.5GHz to LTE already! You've been talking about it.... testing it. Perhaps the Rural Telecommunications Group says it best in their response to the introduction of the WIII program. "... only by combining these actions with additional steps that would ensure access to data roaming and network interoperability in the 700 MHz band [and the 2.5GHz EBS], will it be possible for all Americans to have 3G and eventually 4G access from coast to coast, regardless of their wireless carrier, and regardless of where they live. Quite simply, the U.S. cannot win the future unless all of its citizens, including rural Americans, have the ability to connect wirelessly to the Internet where they live, work, [go to school] and travel".

Idea #3 - Promote Regional Public/Private Partnerships

Clearwire and Sprint, as an infrastructure and service provider should take advantage of the fact that different regions (or communities) throughout this country will have different needs. Where better to start to define these needs than with the stakeholders within those regions. That means the school districts and teachers/administrators that have to meet the criteria of Race to the Top, the local governments who are already collaborating within regional sectors by sharing app's and consolidating reporting mechanisms, local non-profits that are vital to our communities, public safety and Digital Access, Inclusion & Literacy programs for undeserved or low-income people and families. Many other models and beneficiaries can present through these partnerships but more importantly Clearwire and Sprint, you are catalyzing your brand(s) through the offering of differentiating business, operating and revenue models encompassing the shifts in 21st century paradigms and towards conscious business practices.

Idea #4 - Revenue Share - This is a tough one for incumbent service providers...

... but it will work. Revenue from regional wireless service subscriptions flowing back to the communities they serve would be an excellent incentive for users to subscribe to a Clearwire/Sprint network. What else does it promote? Conscious business and brand. What better way to grow a business than to promote social, collaborative or educational entrepreneurship within the regions you are serving? Just a thought...

Idea #5 - Get with the Department of Education!

They just issued $4.35 billion in education reform monies to select states. These states are responsible for laying the foundation for education reform. They need solid broadband wireless infrastructure to fullfill the criteria as set forth by the DOE. That includes:

Great Teachers and Leaders

  • Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance
  • Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals
  • Providing high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals
  • Providing effective support to teachers and principals
  • Improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs

Clearwire/Sprint solution: Infrastructure and access to proprietary/open source app's supporting communications and collaborative content

Standards and Assessments

  • Developing and adopting common standards
  • Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments
  • Developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments

Clearwire/Sprint solution: Infrastructure and app's to support Wireless Generation mClass (standards & assesment) components.

Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools

Clearwire/Sprint solution: Assess and identify under-performing students and schools through educational arm of the regional public/private partnership while incorporating appropriate mClass assesments and standards

Data Systems to Support Instruction

  • Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system (definition)
  • Using data to improve instruction
  • Accessing and using State data

Clearwire/Sprint solution: Proprietary and secure infrastructure to provide real time posting and access to data

(Wireless Generation is one of many new educational service providers (ESP's). Most supplemental ESP's are approved on a state by state basis)

Mr. Hesse... if you can't find your RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) within Sprint or elsewhere, give me a call, I'll fly with ya!

More information here



Leave a comment

Obama to Visit NMU - See First Hand Our Nation's Only Educational Broadband Service (EBS) Network

February 9, 2011 By Bradford Bowman

Tomorrow (February 10, 2011), President Obama will travel to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to see first hand the operation and benefits of Northern Michigan University's (NMU) Educational Broadband Service (EBS "WiMAX") network.

The EBS network allows NMU to better serve the university’s growing commuter and off-campus populations with broadband access to critical course related materials, expand the collaborative efforts between area K-12 schools and NMU students fulfilling student teaching requirements, and continue the development of new wireless services that are critical to NMU's Teaching, Learning and Communication (TLC) technology initiative.

The wireless education network was borne from FCC licensed Educational Broadband Service spectrum which was transitioned back in 2004 from the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) spectrum. NMU is the only university in the country that has utilized this asset, to this extent, to directly benefit their faculty, students, administrators and surrounding K-12 school systems and the community.

NMU's Teaching, Learning and Communication (TLC) technology initiative marries well with use of this EBS spectrum as the TLC initiative program supplies full-time NMU students with a notebook computer. More than 9,400 students, faculty and staff are ongoing participants in the program.

On campus users are encouraged to use the existing Wi-Fi network while when off campus they can hook into the EBS network to access NMU collaborative educational applications and tools. Each EBS base station can cover up to a 35 mile radius (limited as to topography, line of site) as compared to limited coverage areas of only hundreds of feet using the Wi-Fi interface.

Thousands of educational institutions throughout the country have the rights to the same EBS spectrum that NMU is using. However most of these EBS license holders have leased their spectrum out to Clearwire Corporation (Nasdaq - CLWR) in return for cash. The only beneficiaries of these lease deals are Clearwire and the EBS license holder that was originally assigned this spectrum back in the 60's and 70's.

These EBS license holders include anchor institutions in all the communities where we work, go to school and live. The anchor tenants of the EBS spectrum include our state universities and university systems, public community and technical colleges, private universities and colleges, public elementary and secondary school districts, private schools (including Catholic school systems in a number of large metropolitan areas), public television and radio stations, hospitals and hospital associations, and private, non-profit educational entities... most of which have leased to Clearwire.

Clearwire is using the EBS spectrum to build out commercial "WiMAX" services and sub-leasing this asset to Sprint (EVO 4G), Comcast and Time Warner in select markets throughout the United States. They have the rights to ninety percent of the EBS thanks to a ruling by the past FCC, on Election Day 2008, allowing Clearwire to "transfer control of certain licenses, authorizations, and de facto transfer spectrum leases held by Sprint, Clearwire and their subsidiaries to a new wireless broadband company also called Clearwire Corporation (“CLEAR”)".

Things are not going well for Clearwire. They have burned through $3.2 billion, and another $1.5 billion provided by investors Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner, Google, Intel and Bright House Networks.

They are looking for more money -- thus rumors are surfacing surrounding T-Mobile acquiring EBS spectrum from Clearwire for another $2 billion. Clearwire is also paying out $290 million per year in spectrum lease expense with little revenue coming in from a small wholesale subscription base.

On December 31, 2010 the Founder and CEO of Clearwire since 2003, Craig McCaw, resigned for no apparent reason. And there is a mandated FCC EBS "substantial service" deadline of May 1, 2011 in which the FCC will start revoking EBS licenses from our community EBS anchor tenants if the spectrum is not in use. This spectrum could end up at auction lining the pockets of the highest bidder.

Probably the most intriguiging point with respect to proper policy, use and allocation of this EBS spectrum is the fact that NMU is using a part of the EBS spectrum that Clearwire or other incumbents have no interest in using. The EBS Middle Band Segment.

This middle band represents 42MHz of the 194MHz available throughout the EBS band. Clearwire (or it's partners/resellers) is only interested in the lower and higher band segments to provide their WiMAX service, or what will inevitably migrate to 4G LTE in the United States. (see diagram below)


 According to the WiMAX Forum NMU is using EBS Middle Band channels A4-G4 (2572MHz - 2602Mhz).

This is significant because a restructuring of the rules, policy and spectrum allocation in the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) band could greatly enhance not only nationwide educational services and the new criteria introduced through programs like Race to the Top and a revamped Universal Services Fund (USF) but services for our communities, libraries, local/county governments and utilities, enhanced public safety, and provide Digital Access, Inclusion & Literacy programs for low-income or underserved demographics -- all using a ubiquitous mobile wireless infrastructure. This is what Blair Levin, author of our new National Broadband Plan wants and here it is right in front of our noses.

President Obama said in his state-of-the-union address on January 25, 2011 "To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. (Applause.) But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people. (Applause.)".

He also went on to say "Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn't just about -- (applause) -- this isn't about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor."

Well Mr. President, here is part of the infrastructure we Americans are looking for and the opportunity for you to ask Congress to look at the Northern Michigan University model and re-address the rules and inherently flawed policies surrounding the proper and intended use and allocation of the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum... to allow our communities to define their own broadband future based on their needs and intended scales of economic recovery.

There is plenty more on this subject here.

  Download the complete summary of the 2.5GHz Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum here (PDF, 1MB)


Follow on FaceBook      Follow on Twitter


Brad Bowman
Founder/Program Director
AccessDelray & The OUTEACH™ Network
Blog: Government Technologies - Digital Communities - Broadband Nation
Articles: Articles



Leave a comment

Featured Papers

Broadband Nation

As we start to change the future landscape of broadband infrastructure and facilities in the United States probably the most important initiative that we can undertake is to educate the American public and invite public participation on broadband policy reform. The evolving social change and the resulting workforce, collaborative and educational entrepreneurship models that are empowering new 21st Century shifts in paradigm, while recognizing the need for and incorporating emerging conscious capitalism and Corporate accountability/responsibility now presenting in the U.S., will surely gain favor as we strive to improve asset-based community development through sensible broadband policies and infrastructure.