Crappy Clearwire Loses all Value Before Google Can Bail

Clearwire angry.jpg
Google the phrase "Clearwire angry" and this image on your right will show up first. Now Google knows why. The "don't be evil" web giant is selling its share of service provider Clearwire today for less than a tenth of what it paid for the Bellevue-based boondogle four years ago. That name, it sounds familiar.

Oh yeah, that's right: Clearwire, the troubled service provider and shameful target of not one but two class-action lawsuits for false advertising, data throttling, and overcharging for early-termination fees, also known as a bandwidth Ponzi scheme. They would sell people on the illusion of fast internet using nothing more than AOL-slow technology, and then they'd use those profits to build more wireless towers hoping to make their illusion a reality.

Clearwire made a niche for themselves offering "high speed internet" for people in remote areas and buildings where cable companies had skipped over. Google bought into Clearwire to realize their dream of a "nationwide wireless broadband network." An inspired goal, but budding service provider couldn't live up to the hype.

( *Personal note: If I sound a little bitter, that may be because I also bought into the dream of Clearwire when it began to take off. They promised me a free 2 week trial. I was unimpressed and cancelled the trial, but they charged me anyway. It eventually required a call to the Better Business Bureau for Clearwire to pay up.)

Google initially invested $500 million back in 2008, you know, before 4G internet, Lady Gaga, and running water. Sadly, now about the best the tech giant can expect back is a paltry $47 million, or 9.4% what they shelled out initially. Google gave no specific reason for dropping the "asset" but the fact that Clearwire almost reneged on its $273 million debts last year might have had something to do with it.

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