Clearwire Clears Up LTE Plans
"The trials are designed to fully utilize our spectrum footprint," Dr. John Saw told Light Reading Mobile after the firm's second-quarter call on Wednesday evening. Indeed, the operator will be using two 20MHz channels of paired spectrum for tests of the frequency-division duplex (FDD) variant of the technology as well as testing the time-division duplex (TDD) version it has talked about so far. (See Clearwire Plans LTE Tests in the Fall.)
Saw asserts that the company has the spectrum footprint in the 2.5GHz to 2.6GHz band to be able to potentially offer FDD-LTE services using the doubled 20MHz channels across the nation. "We own an average 120 to 150MHz of spectrum in our markets," he says.
The Kirkland-Wash.-based operator is currently using a single 10MHz channel for the uplink and downlink of its WiMax service. Verizon Wireless will use separate 10MHz channels for uplink and downlink in its LTE deployment. Verizon is promising 5 Mbit/s to 12 Mbit/s Clearwire says its LTE trials could yield between 20 Mbit/s to 70 Mbit/s "real-world" download speeds. Despite this, however, the operator is still leaving its options open about moving to LTE.
One of the things that Saw wants to understand is how hard it will be for the operator to overlay LTE on its standing WiMax network: "We’d obviously be trying to reuse as much of the commercial infrastructure as possible."
Clearwire hasn't yet made any final decision yet on whether it will deploy LTE. In 2009, the operator did have an agreement in place with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) that prevented it from moving away from WiMax until 2011. (See Clearwire Can't Stray From WiMax 'Til 2011.) Clearwire's chief commercial officer, Michael Sievert, explains that this agreement has since been revised, clearing Clearwire to test and deploy LTE if it wants. Clearwire would have to give Intel "30 days written notice... if we were to do commercial deployment," Sievert notes.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile