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Clearwire posts higher revenue and more subscribers, isn't out of the woods yet

Clearwire's latest earnings report suggests it may not need Sprint to survive after all

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Clearwire has posted some key numbers from its Q3 2011 financials — and while the 4G carrier and wholesaler isn't out of the woods just yet, higher revenues suggest that they may be moving in the right direction. That's a pretty unusual sentiment considering that majority owner Sprint is all but abandoning the company in its quest to rapidly move to LTE through internal spectrum realignment and a new partnership with Clearwire rival LightSquared, but sure enough, it's expecting to post subscriber adds of 1.9 million to end the quarter at 9.5 million with revenue of $332 million, a boost of 126 percent year over year.

The company is in the midst of trying to reinvent itself from Sprint's go-to-guy for WiMAX into a versatile LTE wholesaler with a minimal consumer retail footprint; it's a risky play, but Clearwire likely doesn't have an option. It failed to get much traction with its own branded devices — and a network of corporate-owned retail locations isn't exactly cheap to operate — while its most important source of revenue, Sprint, stands to dry up over the next couple years. The company isn't turning a profit just yet, but if it manages to stay on this trajectory, it might manage to pull out of the nose dive before the cash stockpile (currently at $700 million) runs out.