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
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (6) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed