Clearwire mulls LTE options

US operator and WiMAX pin up Clearwire is to trial LTE and examine coexistence scenarios between the 4G technologies. The announcement was accompanied by much bravado about how Clearwire is better placed to do LTE than any other US carrier.

The company said its trials of 4G are “expected to yield unmatched wireless speeds in the US,” and are designed “to showcase the unique capability of Clearwire’s unmatched spectrum holdings.” But in a phrase that could be interpreted as an acknowledgement that an LTE strategy is necessary, the company also said it was motivated to examine a variety of potential future technology combinations due to the fact that lots of LTE-enabled devices are expected to be available in the future.

The tests will be conducted through late 2010 and early 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona, using kit from Huawei, Samsung, Beceem and others. Clearwire intends to conduct FDD LTE tests using 40MHz of spectrum, paired in 20MHz contiguous channels, of its 2.5GHz spectrum. The company will concurrently test TDD LTE in a 20MHz configuration and will also test WiMAX co-existence with both FDD LTE and TDD LTE to confirm the flexibility of its network.

Clearwire expects to produce real-world download speeds that range from 20-70Mbps, which is significantly faster than the 5-12Mbps speeds currently envisioned by other LTE deployments in the US, which will rely on smaller pairs of 10MHz channels or less.

John Saw, Clearwire’s chief technology officer, said: “As we have consistently stated, we remain technology agnostic, but WiMAX provides us with unique advantages to meet the needs of our customers today. Ultimately, consumers don’t care about technical acronyms, but they do care about quality and affordable Internet services that work where and when they want, and that’s what we’re focused on delivering. Part of our technical due diligence at Clearwire is to be prepared to leverage a number of possible opportunities as we future-proof our network, and that’s the goal of these tests.”

Clearwire increased its operating loss 116 per cent year on year and 28 per cent consecutively to $520.7m during the three months to end-June. But revenues were up 93 per cent year on year and 15 per cent quarter on quarter to $122m.

The operator ended the second quarter with 1.7 million total subscribers consisting of 940,000 retail subscribers and 752,000 wholesale subscribers. During the period, Clearwire added 722,000 total net new subscribers including 127,000 retail additions and 595,000 wholesale additions.

This week Clearwire struck a deal with Cbeyond, a provider of voice, broadband, mobile and IT applications to more than 52,000 small businesses across the country, under which Cbeyond will offer bundled 4G mobile internet services to small businesses in early 2011.

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