Excerpts from the blog The blockbuster merger of Sprint's WiMax business into Clearwire, announced Wednesday, was negotiated in cities across...

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Excerpts from the blog

The blockbuster merger of Sprint’s WiMax business into Clearwire, announced Wednesday, was negotiated in cities across the country.

But they may as well have done the deal in a Kirkland wine bar; it was like a reunion of local wireless executives, coming back to McCawville.

Long before Dan Hesse started running Sprint, he was running Redmond-based AT&T Wireless, the former McCaw Cellular Communications.

When Hesse and Clearwire Chairman Craig McCaw decided to pursue WiMax together, McCaw called in his former general, John Stanton, to help his current lieutenant, Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff, lead the merged company.

So it’s no wonder the biggest beneficiary of the deal could end up being the Puget Sound region.

If Clearwire grows according to the plans these guys hashed out, the company will be huge, on the scale of the other major wireless companies the area has spawned.

Wolff told me that ultimately the company could “get to 20,000 or 30,000 employees” nationally.

“This is a testament to the ongoing connection that Seattle has to the wireless industry, and certainly with us growing Clearwire in Seattle, that presence will increase fairly dramatically,” he said.

Headquarters will remain here, although it’s likely to soon outgrow the Carillon Point offices where McCaw has launched a series of wireless companies.

Clearwire has about 2,000 employees now, including 350 to 400 at its Kirkland headquarters. Sprint has about 700 in its WiMax unit, including a research and development group in Herndon, Va.

Research will continue to grow in Herndon, but the exact distribution of employees hasn’t been determined, Wolff said.

“What’s really exciting for me is we’ve got what’s going to be a large company that’s going to be a major player changing the communications landscape again in the Seattle area,” he said.

Clearwire partners Intel and Google could also co-locate some engineers at the company to develop their WiMax products, although they already have engineers in the area.

Wolff also clarified Stanton’s stake in the new venture.

After the co-founder of what’s now T-Mobile USA agreed to serve on the Clearwire board at the request of Wolff and McCaw, Stanton chose to invest $10 million.

Although Google gives Clearwire some Silicon Valley pixie dust, plus cash, I wonder if consumers will be concerned about subscribing to a broadband service embedded with Google technology for targeting ads based on their online activity.

Wolff said privacy is a top issue for Clearwire and consumers will have the choice of opting in or out of services.

“I think the privacy issues and how consumers view that is going to be our paramount concern, so you won’t find us doing anything that causes customers to be concerned about how their private information is being handled,” he said.

On the service, you’ll find “consumers opting in to different offers and applications, but that will be their choice rather than ours,” he said.

Going 3G

After spending nearly $7 billion building its 3G wireless network and waiting for government agencies to finally clear the spectrum it needed, T-Mobile USA flipped the 3G switch Monday in the New York market.

The Bellevue company has been testing the network on a particular spectrum in Seattle and Bellingham for more than a year, but consumer 3G services won’t be available here until around the end of the third quarter or start of the fourth quarter, according to Neville Ray, senior vice president of engineering and operations.

By then, the company will also be selling HSDPA devices that can make the most of the network.

Ray said it’s now offering download speeds of around 200 to 300 Kbps in New York. When the new devices are available in the third quarter, consumers will get speeds in the 600 Kbps to 1 Mbps range, he said.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.