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
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
From 4G to 5G: Alcatel-Lucent's Dave Geary

11|25|14   |   09:09   |   (1) comment


Dave Geary, President of Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, talks about the evolution of the 4G market, small cells, partnerships, 5G and the IoT.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Secure Telefonica Network With Huawei's High-End Firewall

11|24|14   |   4:37   |   (0) comments


Andrew Davies, IP architect of the Telefonica, a leading digital communications company, discusses the Huawei security gateway solution and putting the solution into the testbed.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners with Spirent to Verify CE12816's 10GE Port & TRILL Networking Capabilities

11|24|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Spirent Communications is the world's leading supplier for telecom testing appliances and solutions. Spirent has been in a close partnership with Huawei for a long time.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Airlines & Its ICT Transformation

11|24|14   |   2:07   |   (0) comments


In this video, Saudi Airlines discusses its network problems and how Huawei's Agile Network is its all-in-one solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Switch Benefiting Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital

11|24|14   |   2:40   |   (0) comments


Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital speaks about how Huawei's Agile Switch has improved the medical service's network infrastructure.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FanPlay & Huawei Build a Wireless Agile Smart Stadium

11|24|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


FanPlay is a cloud-based white label service, which is effectively a football fan engagement platform underpinned by mobile payment technology.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building an Agile Stadium

11|24|14   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Stadiums may be thousands of tons of concrete and steel, but they now need to be agile. Being at the stadium may not be as alluring as it once was. Sports franchises and stadium operators discuss how to get fans back.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Helps ChinaCache Tackle Challenges in the Internet Industry

11|24|14   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


ChinaCache is China's largest content distribution network supplier. Huawei's CE12800 has provided ChinaCache with very strong support in its establishment of an infrastructure network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Cefinity on Managed Security Services & Next-Generation Firewall

11|24|14   |   7:05   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a cloud management service provider in Southeast Asia. Ivan Zhang, CEO of the company, discusses the implementation of security service management in the cloud era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Gateway in the Eyes of Cefinity

11|24|14   |   2:11   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a managed service provider for enterprise networks. The company currently uses Huawei's AR series routers for the most complete range of functions. CEO Ivan Zhang speaks about the advantages of the AR series routers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
CTO of Bus-Online Talks About Huawei's Agile Gateway

11|24|14   |   2:53   |   (0) comments


Bus-Online covers around 100 million users everyday. In addition to providing mobile TV, and advertising services to the public, Bus-Online has also entered the field of mobile Internet.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Amsterdam ArenA as an Agile Campus

11|24|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Amsterdam ArenA, home of the Ajax soccer team, can be a crowded space. ArenA has partnered with Huawei to work on bringing ample bandwidth to 53,000 people at the same time.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
$35B+ Spectrum Auction Dings Verizon, Shines Dish
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/24/2014
Operators Should Block Ads to Get Their Cut, Startup Says
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/24/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed