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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 28, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Clearwire completes massive Sprint merger, gets $3.2 billion infusion

Clearwire and Sprint Nextel announced that they’ve finally completed the merger of their wireless broadband companies, a process that began in May.

Under the deal, Clearwire takes over Sprint’s WiMax assets, including Xohm, and obtains Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum.

The combined company keeps the Clearwire name and will be based at Clearwire HQ in Kirkland. Hopefully they’ll quickly put the Xohm brand out of its misery.

Keeping the merged company in Kirkland is a big win for the Puget Sound region, as the company’s expected to grow to 20,000 or 30,000 employees nationally.

Clearwire’s also announcing a $3.2 billion infusion from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks.

More details will come during a press conference Monday. The FCC approved the merger, valued earlier at $14 billion, on Nov. 4.

As I’ve mentioned before, the merger’s like a big reunion of Seattle-area wireless executives. Here’s an excerpt from a May post, based on an interview with Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff.

Long before Dan Hesse started running Sprint, he was running Redmond-based AT&T Wireless, the former McCaw Cellular Communications.

When Hesse and Clearwire Chairman Craig McCaw decided to pursue WiMax together, McCaw called in his former general, John Stanton, to help his current lieutenant, Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff, lead the merged company.

So it’s no wonder the biggest beneficiary of the deal could end up being the Puget Sound region.

If Clearwire grows according to the plans these guys hashed out, the company will be huge, on the scale of the other major wireless companies the area has spawned.

Wolff told me that ultimately the company could “get to 20,000 or 30,000 employees” nationally.

“This is a testament to the ongoing connection that Seattle has to the wireless industry, and certainly with us growing Clearwire in Seattle, that presence will increase fairly dramatically,” he said.

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