Clearwire Confirms Huawei Deal
Unstrung first revealed that Clearwire was testing Huawei mobile WiMax gear early in March. (See Clearwire: Tight Tier 1 Focus and Huawei's Clearwire Ride?) Huawei will provide several infrastructure pieces, including base stations, element management system (EMS) components, and related network hardware and software.
Clearwire is now using a number of suppliers for the nationwide rollout of its "Clear" wireless broadband network. The companies involved include: Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Samsung Corp. for radio access network (RAN) equipment; Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for the core Internet Protocol (IP) Next-Generation Network infrastructure; Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) for base station switching; and DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI) for the network’s microwave backhaul transport. Motorola is double-dipping, as it also provides additional microwave backhaul equipment to Clearwire. (See Cisco Hooks Up With Clearwire, Ciena in the Clear, Clearwire Uses Moto WiMax, and Sprint Rides DragonWave for Backhaul.) Clearwire has consistently made it clear [ed. note: geddit?] that it would use multiple suppliers for its network deployment plans. Clearwire's chief strategy officer, Scott Richardson, said back in May that the company is taking a flexible approach to its RAN plans but that in this economic environment any vendor would be "happy to have our business." (See Clearwire Considering WiMax Polygamy .)
On a conference call this morning, Clearwire CTO John Saw said that one of the motivating factors in picking Huawei as a RAN provider is because of the company's latest 802.16e mobile WiMax base station. In June, Huawei launched what it proclaimed the world's first commercial WiMax distributed base station (DBS) with four transmitters and four receivers (4T4Rs). (See Huawei Claims WiMax First.)
Saw says that Clearwire is using the base station with four 2.4 GHz radios onboard. "It provides a quantifiable increase in range and capacity," he explained, without going into any more detail.
Clearwire is expecting to deploy such "multi-carrier" base stations from its other RAN suppliers -- Motorola and Samsung -- too. "All future base stations will be of this four-transmit, four-receive variety," Saw said.
Clearwire isn't saying exactly how it will divide up deployment areas for its separate suppliers. "There isn't a fixed ratio," Saw said on the call. "We will award markets based on performance."
"We do have Huawei started in Seattle and the Hawaiian islands," he added. These are markets where Clearwire already has a fixed wireless service that mobile WiMax will supplement and eventually replace.
Saw said the Kirkland, Wash.-based operator is "on track" to hit its target of 80 markets by the end of 2010. The operator will go into more details about markets on its second-quarter earnings call this afternoon.
The deal is important for Huawei as it solidifies the company's position as a major global WiMax supplier and raises the firm's profile in the U.S. "This is a very significant milestone for Huawei, especially in North America," says Charlie Chen, senior vice president of marketing and product management for Huawei.
Chen notes that Huawei has now shipped more than 1 million WiMax base stations in total and deployed 45 802.16e mobile WiMax networks worldwide. The firm has over 2,000 engineers dedicated to research and development on WiMax.
This is quite a contrast to Huawei's infrastructure rivals such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Networks . Many of the major cellular-based vendors have pulled out of WiMax development in favor of pushing ahead with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung