Clearwire said back in May that it may eventually adopt LTE after pulling down 90Mbps speeds in its testing of the wireless technology, and today that's exactly what it did. In a statement that just hit the wires, Clearwire announced that it intends to add LTE to its network after completing tests that yielded speeds over 120Mbps and that that network will be capable of a smooth transition to LTE Advanced in the future. The planned network, which Clearwire says is still "subject to additional funding," will initially be rolled out to densely-populated areas where users are clamoring for high-speed wireless data. When exactly that roll out will begin remains to be seen, however.
So what does this all mean for WiMAX, you ask? Clearwire wrapped up today's announcement by saying that it's still committed to its WiMAX network, which currently serves around 7.65 million customers. Unfortunately, the company didn't mention any plans for an upcoming WiMAX expansion, which is kind of a bummer considering how long it's been since we've seen one.
Overall this sounds like a good, and inevitable, move for Clearwire. WiMAX has been good for Clearwire (and Sprint) since the company launched its first 4G market back in 2009, but with so many companies opting to go with LTE for their 4G needs, it doesn't come as much of a shock to see Clearwire making the same move. As for those of you that are currently rocking a WiMAX handset, you shouldn't have anything to worry about when it comes to Clearwire's switch. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see the company shut down its WiMAX network at some point, I'm sure that that move is still pretty far off.
CLEARWIRE ANNOUNCES INTENT TO ADD LTE TO ITS NETWORK TO ACCELERATE WHOLESALE BUSINESS
Company Will Leverage Deep Spectrum Resources and All-IP Network to Meet Long-Term Mobile Broadband Demands
Unmatched LTE Network Capable of Serving Current and Future Wholesale and Retail Customers
Initial LTE Rollout Will Target High-Demand Areas of Current 4G Markets, Leverage Existing 4G Infrastructure for Minimal Capital Expense
Download Speeds Exceed 120 Mbps in Successful Network Technology Trial
Support for WiMAX 4G Network Technology to Continue
KIRKLAND, Wash, Aug. 3, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Clearwire Corporation (Nasdaq:CLWR), a leading provider of 4G wireless broadband services in the United States, today announced its intent to add "LTE Advanced-ready" technology to its 4G network. The announcement follows the successful completion of 4G technology trials that achieved download speeds exceeding 120 Mbps and demonstrated the potential of Clearwire's unmatched spectrum advantage.
The initial implementation of Clearwire's LTE network would target densely populated, urban areas of Clearwire's existing 4G markets where current 4G usage demands are high. The robust all-IP infrastructure already deployed in these markets can be leveraged to serve the company's LTE needs, delivering significant capital cost savings compared to a similar overlay by other carriers of an existing 3G architecture.
"Clearwire plans to raise the bar again for mobile broadband service in the United States," said John Stanton, Clearwire's Chairman and interim CEO. "Our leadership in launching 4G services forced a major change in the competitive mobile data landscape. Now, we plan to bring our considerable spectrum portfolio to bear to deliver an LTE network capable of meeting the future demands of the market."
"This is the future of mobile broadband," said Dr. John Saw, Clearwire's Chief Technology Officer. "Our extensive trial has clearly shown that our 'LTE Advanced-ready' network design, which leverages our deep spectrum with wide channels, can achieve far greater speeds and capacity than any other network that exists today. Clearwire is the only carrier with the unencumbered spectrum portfolio required to achieve this level of speed and capacity in the United States."
"In addition, the 2.5 GHz spectrum band in which we operate is widely allocated worldwide for 4G deployments, enabling a potentially robust, cost effective and global ecosystem that could serve billions of devices," Saw added. "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. And, since we currently support millions of customers in the 2.5 GHz band, we know that our LTE network won't present harmful interference issues with GPS or other sensitive spectrum bands."
Clearwire also noted that since launching its first 4G market in 2009, video has become the largest component of the company's overall data traffic and video traffic itself has increased more than tenfold since 2009. The company believes that as more video-intensive smartphones and services rise, so will the needs for Clearwire's high-capacity 4G wholesale network.
LTE Advanced is a 4G technical standard that calls for peak download mobile speeds of at least 100 Mbps, which far exceeds today's commercial networks. Clearwire's LTE network will be "LTE Advanced-ready" meaning that it will use an ultra-high-capacity spectrum configuration that is superior to the typical configuration of the slower, more capacity-constrained commercial LTE network designs in the United States of today.
Clearwire's LTE implementation plan, which is subject to additional funding, contemplates deploying Time Division Duplex (TDD) LTE technology and reusing its flexible all-IP network architecture and upgrading base station radios and some core network elements, which offers significant capital savings. This will include the use of multicarrier, or multichannel, wideband radios that will be carrier aggregation capable. Carrier aggregation is a key feature of LTE Advanced that will enable Clearwire to further leverage its vast spectrum depth to create larger "fat pipes" for deploying mobile broadband service. The network would position Clearwire as the clear leader in 4G mobile broadband technology, capable of serving the current and anticipated future demands of wholesale and retail customers.
Clearwire, together with some of the largest wireless carriers in the world, is a founding member of the Global TDD LTE Initiative (GTI) which aims to bring together leading industry partners to steer the TDD LTE ecosystem as a major standard in mobile broadband technology and drive the development of next generation mobile broadband networks. Member companies that currently support more than a billion subscribers on their networks believe that a global LTE standard has the potential to achieve significant economies of scale and serve hundreds of millions of customers worldwide.
Clearwire also restated its commitment to its existing 4G WiMAX network, which covers approximately 132 million people while serving 7.65 million retail and wholesale customers and an ecosystem of nearly 110 WiMAX enabled devices, including all 4G phones currently offered by Sprint. Clearwire expects to end 2011 with approximately 10 million 4G customers.
Clearwire Corporation (Nasdaq:CLWR), through its operating subsidiaries, is a leading provider of mobile broadband services. Clearwire's 4G network currently provides coverage in areas of the U.S. where more than 130 million people live. Clearwire's open all-IP network, combined with significant spectrum holdings, provides an unprecedented combination of speed and mobility to deliver next generation broadband access. The company markets its 4G service through its own brand called CLEAR® as well as through its wholesale relationships with companies such as Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Locus Telecommunications, Cbeyond, Mitel and Best Buy. Strategic investors include Intel Capital, Comcast, Sprint, Google, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks. Clearwire is headquartered in Kirkland, Wash. Additional information is available at http://www.clearwire.com.
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