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Clearwire's Loss Widens; Revenue Jumps

Shares edge higher following the results.

Clearwire

(CLWR)

posted a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss late Monday, although shares were higher Tuesday as investors looked toward the company's WiMax merger deal.

The Kirkland, Wash., wireless broadband service provider recorded a loss of $176.4 million, or $1.08 a share, in the first quarter, nearly doubling from a loss of $92.6 million, or 64 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter jumped 76% from a year ago to $51.5 million.

However, analysts had expected a loss of 92 cents a share on revenue of $48.5 million, according to the Thomson Reuters average estimate.

Still, the recently announced $14.5 billion merger of

Sprint Nextel's

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and Clearwire's WiMax broadband businesses was fresh on investors' minds, and that was overriding the loss.

"With our upcoming combination with Sprint's 4G assets, we expect to cover 120 million to 140 million people by the end of 2010," said Clearwire Chief Technology Officer John Saw during the company's conference call. "By the end of 2009, we expect to have 60 million to 80 million people covered."

Clearwire said that following the closing of the combination with Sprint and the new investments from a group of investors, it expects the funding gap required to complete a nationwide buildout to be approximately $2 billion to $2.3 billion.

Shares of Clearwire were lately up 5 cents, or 0.4%, to $12.80. Sprint, meanwhile, was off 6 cents, or 0.7%, to $9.18.

Among key first-quarter metrics, Clearwire said that consolidated net subscriber additions were approximately 48,000, bringing the total number of subscribers to 443,000. That represents 72% year-over-year growth and a 12% sequential increase.

In the first quarter, consolidated average revenue per subscriber, or ARPU, was $36.86, an increase of $1.06 from the same period in 2007 and a sequential rise of 77 cents.

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"We believe ARPU growth will continue to be driven by premium plan loading, which was more than 80% in

the first quarter, and the increased adoption of multiple services by our customers as we evolve our marketing and distribution in preparation for Clearwire's WiMax offering," COO Perry Satterlee said during the conference call.

The planned venture with Sprint has received $3.2 billion in investments from

Intel

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,

Google

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,

Comcast

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,

Time Warner Cable

(TWC)

and fellow cable operator Bright House Networks.