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Clearwire To Add LTE To Boost 4G Data Speeds

8/04/2011 10:37:06 AM Eastern

Kirkland,
Wash. - Wireless carrier Clearwire
announced plans to add 4G LTE technology to its 4G mobile WiMAX network as soon
as it can get additional funding.

The
money-losing carrier cited successful trials in which it used LTE technology on
its spectrum to deliver peak download speeds of 120Mbps, handily exceeding the
speed of its current network and competitors' current and planned LTE networks,
the company claimed. Capital expenses would be minimized because the company
would be able to reuse its existing IP-based infrastructure and upgrade only
its base station radios and some core network elements, Clearwire added.

The
company also said it must deploy an LTE network alongside mobile WiMAX "to
remain competitive." Analysts noted that LTE technology will dominate future 4G
deployments worldwide.

Once it
gets funding for the LTE rollout, the company could complete an LTE rollout
within 12 months of starting, a spokesman told TWICE. The company would
initially target high-demand areas in its current 4G markets.

The
company, which sells service wholesale to Sprint and others, would continue to
offer mobile WiMax service to support existing subscribers. Sprint owns just
less than a majority of Clearwire shares.

"The
120Mbps we measured is indicative of what the technology, coupled with our
spectrum depth, can deliver," the spokesman said. "We expect that our
commercial customers will get speeds that will far exceed what is being
delivered today and our spectrum depth will give us the ability to sustain
these speeds for them."

Because
of the amount of spectrum that Clearwire owns, Clearwire's LTE network will not
only deliver higher speeds but "serve more customers at higher speeds" than
competing LTE networks, the spokesman continued. "Our spectrum depth is the key
differentiator."

Although
the carrier would launch with a form of LTE called TDD-LTE, the system
architecture would support a changeover to the new LTE Advanced that could
further accelerate data rates.

The
company's already deployed all-IP infrastructure delivers "significant capital
cost savings compared to a similar overlay by other carriers of an existing 3G
architecture," the company noted.

Another
reason for adding LTE is that the company's 2.5GHz spectrum "is widely
allocated worldwide for 4G deployments, enabling a potentially robust, cost
effective and global ecosystem that could serve billions of devices," said
chief technology officer John Saw, underscoring the growing popularity of LTE
for 4G deployments worldwide. "We anticipate that the economies of scale
derived from this global ecosystem will act as a catalyst for the development
of thousands of low-cost devices and applications."

The
rollout would include the use of multicarrier wideband radios that would enable
the network to aggregate bands of spectrum not close to one another. That
capability is a key element that makes the network LTE Advanced-ready, the
company said.

LTE
Advanced is a 4G technical standard that calls for peak download mobile speeds
of at least 100Mbps, Clearwire said. It also promises to deliver peak speeds of
1Gbps for fixed mobile broadband services.

Clearwire's
existing 4G WiMAX network covers geographic areas with a combined population of
around 132 million people. A total of 7.65 million retail and wholesale
customers are on the network, including Sprint 4G subscribers. The company said
it expects to end 2011 with approximately 10 million 4G customers.

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