Light Reading
Tough network integration decisions face Sprint even if it succeeds in getting its hands on Clearwire's fat belt of nationwide 4G spectrum

Clearwire: Sprint's Next 4G Integration Headache?

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
12/13/2012
50%
50%

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s $2 billion bid to buy its partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is a clear grab for more 4G-capable spectrum, but integrating the two operators' separate networks will be no easy task.

Sprint is both Clearwire's majority owner and its biggest customer. Clearwire said in the second quarter that 9.6 million of its 11 million WiMax customers are wholesale customers. The vast majority of those are subscribers to Sprint's "4G Now" using dual-mode WiMax and 3G smartphones across 72 major cities in the U.S. (See What We Mean When We Say '4G'.)

Sprint, however, did not include WiMax support as part of its "Network Vision" plan for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 3G upgrades. (See Sprint: SoftBank Will Not Change Network Vision.)

"The current Sprint base stations do not support WiMax," a Sprint spokeswoman confirmed to Light Reading Mobile Thursday.

This means that Sprint -- and its would-be majority owner, SoftBank Mobile Corp. -- have some decisions to make if the operator succeeds in its bid for Clearwire. Sprint's options include:

  • Incorporating the existing Clearwire WiMax network coverage in a further phase of its Network Vision upgrade and then reusing the spectrum for future Sprint 4G.
  • Operating WiMax as a separate standalone network, then moving planned future 4G LTE TDD support to Sprint. (See Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD?)
  • Operating the Clearwire WiMax and LTE TDD networks entirely separate from Sprint. (See Clearwire Goes It Alone With Faster 4G.)

Analysts LR Mobile spoke to expect at least a degree of integration between the networks.

"The most likely outcome will be to do a similar Network Vision-like project to migrate Clearwire's existing WiMax network to LTE," suggests Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR) analyst Chris Antlitz in an email reply to questions. "This would require ripping out and replacing WiMax base stations with multimode LTE RAN (the same kind Sprint is using to ensure seamless operation with Sprint's current network) and refarming that spectrum to work on the LTE network. This would give Sprint the greatest opex efficiencies and provide a huge bandwidth boost to its network. Operating two different networks simultaneously is not a prudent idea, as we saw with Nextel, so Sprint will be looking to converge both networks as fast as possible."

Heavy Reading analyst Berge Ayvazian notes that Sprint has a provision for the support of Clearwire's 2.5GHz-2.6GHz frequencies in its Network Vision requirements. He tells us, however, that it is much too early for Sprint to have deployed any LTE TDD radios yet.

In fact, as things stand, Sprint and Clearwire have completely separate networks and only Samsung Corp. in common as a vendor. None of Sprint's other Network Vision vendors -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) -- even support WiMax, although both are working on LTE TDD (aka TD-LTE).

So Sprint has several potential options to examine if and when it comes time to take Clearwire into the fold.

"Keep in mind that Softbank could influence this vendor selection and best practices on network integrations," suggests Ayvazian. "But the potential loser here could be Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. -- which may be cut off from the Clearwire TD-LTE network rollout by Sprint." (See Clearwire Will Keep Using Huawei.)

The Sprint spokeswoman wouldn't comment when we asked about future integration plans for Clearwire.

For more


— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Introducing 'The New IP'
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/11/2014
Glimpsing the Self-Driving Car
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed