There’s been a lot of buzz around 4G and what it means for innovation. Maddock Douglas recently interviewed Jeannie Weaver, Regional General Manager at Clearwire, the first 4G network already up and running, to talk about the future of mobility.
Innovation is defined as the synchronized intersection of an unmet need or insight, the idea (business model, product, or service) that meets that need and the communication that connects the two. Let's uncover the innovation behind Clearwire and what it means for the future of mobility.
What was the unmet need or insight that Clearwire is responding to?
Consumers want and need to be able to access data at broadband speeds on the go—and we don’t think that experience should be painful.
What was the idea that inspired Clearwire - how are you filling the unmet need?
The current 3G network is provided by voice-centric cell phone companies who are accommodating the data needs of consumers. Clearwire is just the opposite—we are a data centric network. The reason AT&T is having trouble bringing quality data service to market right now can be attributed to building a network based on voice and having to retrofit for mass data use thanks to the iPhone. Clearwire is built for data volume from day one.
And the communication—what has Clearwire been doing to make yourselves known to your target consumer audience?
We want people thinking about Clear—we want to intrigue them. We are currently implementing multiple layers that include grassroots salespeople, partnering with local businesses and street teams. We are talking to people the way they want to be communicated to.
With 400 million people already using 3G (HSDPA/WCDMA) technologies today, what is Clearwire’s plan to increase mobile usership?
We ideally want to take marketshare and entice those customers on an inferior network to utilize our faster 4G network.
Clearwire has been extraordinarily helpful in industries with location challenges, construction for example, where people are working in remote areas—Clearwire is plug and play and the pricepoint is very attractive for small and medium sized businesses.
What roles do you see big investors, Sprint, Google and Intel playing in Clearwire’s future?
Sprint holds 51% of Clearwire and they have provided the funding that is allowing us to build out our network. Intel is creating laptops and other hardware with built in WiMAX capabilities, and Google will continue to assist Clearwire strategically.
Comcast is currently reselling our service under their brand, and advantage to Clearwire because we benefit when network usage increases.
What does the future of mobility look like and how do you see Clearwire affecting that future?
I think we already are. Having the capability to accomplish things on the go, but have an experience like a home broadband connection is amazing. Clearwire will effectively support and drive a better mobile experience while helping to feed the cloud.
Also, imagine if the 4G network were implemented in, for instance, Chicago’s parking meter system—there’s a huge lag time when a customer uses a card to pay, resulting in a long wait. The ability to speed things up can make so many day-to-day things easier—and safer. For public safety purposes, the ability to live stream video could bring surveillance to a higher level of efficiency. Devices with built in WiMAX capabilities will become more common as manufacturers rush to provide consumers with the ability to lifestream rich content to their personal and social networks on the go.
How do you see the future playing out between LTE (Long Term Evolution) and Clearwire 4G?
Both technologies are sound and in the future, 4G will seem like a commodity. Yet, we have the advantage of speed to market. We'll see how the rest plays out in 8-12 months as LTE goes online in major metropolitan areas.
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