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July 13, 2006 at 11:53 AM

Clearwire sues Bay Area college

Clearwire is suing Peralta Community College in Oakland to get the college to comply with a 2005 agreement that would allow the Kirkland-based company to roll out its wireless broadband services in the Bay Area.

Clearwire — which already is providing wireless broadband as a precursor to WiMax in 27 U.S. markets — needs the spectrum. It generally relies on spectrum leased from colleges and other institutions, or in some cases buys it.

The suit, filed June 16, says the lease is key to providing a nationwide service because currently, it believes that all the spectrum in the greater San Francisco area is subject to long-term leases. Clearwire says, in court documents, that Peralta holds two of the five groups of channels available. Clearwire has an agreement to use one.

“The lease for the Defendant’s spectrum represents the entirety of the spectrum rights held by [Clearwire] in the Bay Area and, thus, the only capacity currently available to further its business goal of rolling out its advanced wireless service product in Oakland and the surrounding area.”

Clearwire further notes that it believes that the remainder of the spectrum is owned by its primary competitor.

“The loss of the spectrum will prevent [Clearwire] from rolling out its advanced wireless product in the Oakland market. Exclusion from this key metropolitan market would further adversely affect [Clearwire’s] ability to build out a ‘nationwide’ service.”

The dispute started in April when Peralta Community College sent Clearwire a letter saying that it was terminating its agreement. Peralta’s letter said it wanted to terminate the agreement because Clearwire had failed to provide key equipment or a major cash contribution of $250,000 as requested earlier.

Hard to say what will happen, but it seems clear that the Bay Area won’t be getting service until this is resolved.

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