Market Overview

Manifest Destiny For The Digital Age (S, CLWR, INTC, VZ, ATT)


President Obama outlined an initiative to deliver wireless internet to 98% of the United States on Thursday. The speech was delivered from Marquette, Michigan, due to the town's success in establishing a mobile broadband network on existing WiMax technology. Northern Michigan University partnered with towns nearby to expand cell towers to allow residents to have access to wireless internet networks.

The ambitious plan would involve auctioning wireless spectrum that currently belongs to television stations and government agencies for an estimated $27.8 billion. With this additional money, the government will create 4G wireless networks for rural users and fund a mobile communication system for emergency responders. Estimates peg the cost for the wireless broadband network around $7 billion. Because the funding for the wireless broadband network comes from the spectrum auction rather than tax payer dollars, there is an excellent chance of the plan coming to fruition.

The wireless broadband network would most likely be based on current 4G technology such as WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE). This would be a major boon to current 4G operators and backers. In particular, Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR), Sprint (NYSE: S), and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) would greatly benefit. Sprint and Clearwire are partnered in providing WiMax broadband service under the “Clear” brand name. Intel is one of the primary leaders in promoting WiMax by integrating it into its hardware and investing in Clearwire. Intel partnered with Northern Michigan University to establish their network in northern Michigan.

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T's (NYSE: ATT) 4G wireless broadband is based off LTE technology, which is a competing wireless standard to WiMax. The technology is superior, however, not as prevalent yet. Both Verizon and AT&T are heavily investing in the technology as they upgrade their networks to 4G. The FCC just recently established LTE as the standard for a nationwide public safety network.

The exact specifications of the network have not been determined. WiMax and LTE and their associated backers will greatly benefit if this resolution passes. Ultimately, national broadband will benefit the U.S. as a whole in an increasingly global marketplace.

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