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Friday, May 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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McCaw's Clearwire partners with AOL

Seattle Times technology reporter

Kirkland-based Clearwire said Thursday it has formed a partnership with Time Warner's America Online to resell its wireless broadband services.

The partnership is yet another high-profile announcement for Clearwire, the venture led by wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw.

Clearwire is building a broadband service based on WiMax-like technology, which competes with DSL or cable. The difference is that the service, which requires a small modem, is wireless and can be used wherever a signal can be found.

Clearwire's service will now be resold by AOL and will be called "AOL High Speed — Powered by Clearwire."

In addition to AOL, Clearwire sells the service online and through company-owned stores and Best Buy retail outlets in markets where it's available.

Initially, customers in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Stockton and Modesto, Calif., will be able to purchase the AOL service.

Both companies declined to comment on whether it will be offered in the 30 or so other Clearwire markets across the country. In Washington state, service is available in the Tri-Cities and Bellingham.

If AOL expands the reseller agreement, Clearwire will have a shot at signing up some of AOL's 18.6 million subscribers. In January, AOL announced partnerships with several DSL and cable providers in an effort to convert its dial-up customers to broadband.

"Clearwire's wireless high-speed service brings a differentiated offering to AOL members moving to broadband," said Joe Redling, AOL's Access Business president. "This innovative approach to broadband access offers consumers additional levels of freedom and flexibility."

AOL will sell Clearwire's service online and advertise it on its Web site, through pop-up advertisements and direct mail. It will cost as little as $25.90 a month, or the same as AOL's DSL or cable promotional price.

Clearwire, founded in 2003, has ramped up operations quickly. In April, it started offering Voice over Internet Protocol service, or VoIP. In March, it raised $360 million in debt to fund operations, bringing the company's total financing to more than $1 billion.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com

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