Clearwire Plans LTE Tests in the Fall

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) says that it is ready to start testing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the US this fall and believes it will be able to offer significantly higher "real-world" speeds from the pre-4G technology than other domestic operators are presently promising. (See Clearwire Preps TD-LTE Tests.)

The operator said -- as it unveiled its second-quarter results on Wednesday afternoon -- that it is ready to start tests of both frequency-division LTE (FD-LTE) and time-division LTE (TD-LTE) in Phoenix, Ariz., this fall. The company expects to wrap up initial tests "early in 2011."

The company said in a statement that the initial tests are expected to demonstrate "real-world download speeds" ranging from 20 Mbit/s to 70 Mbit/s. Key LTE rival Verizon Wireless has so far promised average download speeds of between 5 Mbit/s and 12 Mbit/s.

Clearwire expects to conduct tests across three areas:

  • FDD LTE: Clearwire intends to conduct FDD LTE tests using 40MHz of spectrum paired in 20MHz channels of its 2.5GHz spectrum.
  • TDD LTE: Clearwire will concurrently test single-channel TDD LTE in a 20MHz configuration.
  • WiMaX and LTE: Clearwire will also test "WiMax co-existence with both FDD LTE and TDD LTE" to support a wide range of devices across its network.

Clearwire will work with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Samsung Corp. on the LTE tests. Chipmaker Beceem Communications Inc. will be examining multi-mode LTE and WiMax applications on the network. Clearwire says it will announce more partners later and that "a number of large wireless operators" may get involve with the tests.

"We're the only service provider in the US that can do this because of our spectrum depth," said Clearwire's CEO Bill Morrow on Wednesday's second-quarter call.

The company intends to cover 120 million people in the US with WiMax by the end of the year. Morrow says it will launch in Boston in a few weeks, with New York City and San Francisco to follow sometime later this year.

"We remain committed to WiMax for our current buildout plans," Morrow continued. The LTE tests will enable the company to move to LTE "should we decide to go down this path."

Morrow certainly didn't sugarcoat the challenge of the massive current WiMax buildout the company is approaching over the rest of the year. "We are now entering the steep part of the build curve," he said.

For its second-quarter results, Clearwire posted a loss of $125.9 million, or $0.61 a share, compared with a loss of $73.4 million, or $0.38 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 93 percent to $122.5 million year-on-year. The company has been spending on tower leases and backhaul as it pushed to build out more markets in the second quarter. (See Clearwire Posts Q2.)

The company will still be looking for more funding to complete its network deployment plans. The company is talking to current investors and new possible investors, considering debt and equity offerings and even a potential sale of some spectrum to raise some cash.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:27:40 PM
re: Clearwire Plans LTE Tests in the Fall

Nokia Siemens can't be happy about Motorola not being involved in these first LTE trials at Clearwire. 

I thought one of the big selling points about Motorola's (third generation, I think) WiMax gear is that it's software upgradable to TD-LTE. I've never gotten an answer on how much, if any, of Clearwire's installed equipment from Moto can be upgraded to TD-LTE in this way, but I'll keep asking!


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