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4G/3G/WiFi

Clearwire’s WiMax Overlay

8:30 AM -- As Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) prepares to merge with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)’s mobile WiMax assets and readies its own first mobile WiMax launch in Portland, Ore., scheduled for the end of this year, we’re curious about what the WiMax trailblazer will do with its existing pre-WiMax networks. (See Sprint, Clearwire Create $14.5B WiMax Giant, Can Clearwire Do It?, Clearwire: We'll Kick LTE's Butt, and Clearwire in Euro Partner Talks.)

Unstrung talked to Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff recently, and we asked him about this. He explained that Clearwire can build an 802.16e mobile WiMax overlay network on some of its existing fixed wireless sites. (See Clearwire: We're Ready for Primetime.)

He said that a lot of the infrastructure Clearwire has already developed with pre-WiMax, such as the towers and backhaul, can all be used in an 802.16e network build. It's merely a matter of putting in a WiMax radio and antenna in some sites, he explained.

“We’ll have an overlay in some markets to maintain the pre-WiMax and build out the mobile WiMax and run them side by side,” said Wolff.

At the end of the first quarter this year, Clearwire had 443,000 subscribers. The new Clearwire expects to cover 100 million U.S. citizens by the end of 2010 and reach 200 million potential users by 2015. (See Clearwire's Loss Gets Bigger and CLWR: Where It's at With WiMax.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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