As both Dish Network and Sprint haggle for control of Clearwire, the WiMax provider Tuesdauy delivered up disappointing fourth quarter results, proving once more that its spectrum is its most valuable asset.
Clearwire ended the fourth quarter 2012 with approximately 9.6 million total subscribers, down 8 percent from 10.4 million subscribers at the end of fourth quarter 2011. Clearwire's subscriber base consists mainly of wholesale customers, which accounted for 8.2 million. Just 1.4 million were retail Clearwire subscribers and 8.2 million wholesale subscribers.
The company's subscriber numbers reflect 9,000 retail net subscriber additions and 915,000 wholesale net subscriber losses during fourth quarter 2012.
Clearwire said the decline in wholesale subscribers, which consist primarily of Sprint 3G/4G smartphone customers, is primarily due to the discontinuation of postpaid WiMAX offerings by Sprint.
Net losses for the quarter attributable to Clearwire were $195 million, or $0.28 per basic share compared to $236.0 million, or $0.81 per basic share, respectively in the same period last year.
Fourth quarter total revenue declined 14 percent year over year to $311.2 million, primarily due to the expected year over year decline in wholesale revenue. Fourth quarter wholesale revenue of $116.6 million, was relatively flat compared to third quarter 2012 wholesale revenue of $116.5 million, and down 29 percent year over year.
Clearwire is currently mulling a pair of offers. Sprint has offered to buy out the remaining share of Clearwire that it doesn't currently own for $2.97. Meanwhile, Dish Network has offered $3.30 per share for Clearwire but has stipulated a number of conditions, among them a commitment by Clearwire to help Dish rollout a wireless network. That offers is complicated by Sprint's current majority stake in Clearwire.
At the end of fourth quarter 2012, Clearwire operated networks in the U.S. covering areas where approximately 137 million people reside, including approximately 135 million people in markets where we provide 4G services, slightly higher than the prior year period.
Shares of Clearwire were flat following yesterday's report, trading at $3.17 in morning trading on Wednesday.