Clearwire touts spectrum as rumors fly about whether it could get the iPhone 5

Erik Prusch

Clearwire has taken it on the chin in the past year, chopping its staff, watching its stock tank and reformulating its board and executive ranks. Now, after the struggles of rival LightSquared, which cut staff after regulators cited interference issues earlier this month, could Clearwire regain its mojo?

CEO Erik Prusch appears to think so, telling All Things Digital that the company’s strong spectrum assets has positioned it well for the future.

“It’s a valuable asset,” Prusch told reporter Ina Fried. “We expect it will continue to appreciate. This is really the fuel for the business model.” (Prusch declined to comment on possible wholesale partners, including Bellevue’s T-Mobile USA).

One potential boost could come in the form of the next-generation iPhone. CNET’s Roger Cheng writes this week that Clearwire could be a contender to get the iPhone 5 on its network since the company is looking to build out a so-called LTE or Long-term evolution network. The first LTE deployments will start to appear next month, and Prusch says they will first arrive in some of the company’s bigger markets.

Cheng writes:

Such a notion would have been unthinkable even a few months ago, when Clearwire was stuck on its WiMax network and struggling financially. But after some financing and a cash infusion from Sprint Nextel–simultaneously its largest customer and shareholder–the company is back on track. And with Sprint getting the iPhone in October, the door opens for the next version to run on Clearwire’s network, assuming it is compatible with LTE.

Clearwire declined to comment about the possibility of getting an LTE-based iPhone.  But the prospects could help bolster Clearwire, even though the company still has a long way to go before rolling out that network nationwide.

Shares of Clearwire are down more than two percent in trading today. They’ve lost more than 50 percent of their value in the past 12 months.