After building a WiMAX network in the U.S. over the past few years, Clearwire plans to leverage its current infrastructure and roll out an LTE-Advanced mobile broadband service. The company has successfully tested such technology in trials showing peak speeds of 120 Mbps, or roughly 20 times a 6 Mbps WiMAX connection. In addition to the fast wireless information superhighway, Clearwire is touting its 2.5 GHz spectrum, which it says is a frequency being used to deploy 4G networks around the world, helping to bring global interoperability potential.
The company didn’t produce a timeline for the LTE-Advanced network and does state that plans are subject to additional funding. One point made clear in the announcement, however, is a dig at competitor LightSquared, the company that is building a 4G network with old satellite spectrum and recently cut a 15-year deal with Sprint. LightSquared’s network has been opposed because it presents interference for GPS. Here’s the relevant statement from Clearwire CTO, Dr. John Saw, touting global savings and a shot across the bow of LightSquared:
[T]he 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. 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 currently has 7.65 million customers on its WiMAX network; some through its own direct sales and wholesale resellers plus all of Sprint’s current 4G handset owners. The company plans to first bring LTE-Advanced service to large urban areas where it already supplies WiMAX coverage, which will help limit the infrastructure costs. And although consumers will welcome super-fast mobile broadband speeds, LTE-Advanced may be more about saving costs from an operator’s standpoint. Our “10 Things You Need to Know About LTE-Advanced” article explains how this network standard can use wireless spectrum more efficiently.
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