Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clearwire Confirms Plans for TDD-LTE, Sees Capacity Advantage over Peers

Clearwire confirmed its intention to deploy "LTE Advanced-ready" technology in its 4G network while restating its commitment to its existing 4G WiMAX network, which covers approximately 132 million people while serving 7.65 million retail and wholesale customers. The company expects to end 2011 with approximately 10 million 4G customers.


Clearwire said the initial LTE deployment will target densely populated, urban areas of its existing 4G markets where current 4G usage demands are high.


Clearwire said its LTE network will be "LTE Advanced-ready," meaning that it will use spectrum configurations capable of 100+ Mbps downlink speeds. The LTE implementation plan, which is subject to additional funding, contemplates deploying Time Division Duplex (TDD) LTE technology. The plan calls for upgrading the all-IP network architecture and base station radios, as well as some core network elements. The LTE overlay will include the use of multicarrier, or multichannel, wideband radios that will be carrier aggregation capable. Carrier aggregation is a key feature of LTE Advanced that will enable Clearwire to further leverage its spectrum depth to create larger "fat pipes" for deploying mobile broadband service.


In a conference call, Clearwire said it will not use Sprint's "Network Vision" infrastructure for the LTE overlay because it substantially more expensive that overlaying its own network, but the companies are discussing the possibility of using Sprint's "Network Vision" in new markets. The WiMAX infrastructure will be preserved for a significant period. The believes its key competitive advantage is having "the deepest spectrum" on the only globally coordinated 4G band (2.5 GHz). Clearwire holds an average of 160 MHz of spectrum nationwide, more than AT&T and T-Mobile together, in one contiguous band, enabling wider channels for high-bandwidth applications. The company noted that even if LightSquared gets permission to go ahead with a 2x10 MHz LTE wholesale network, the Clearwire network eventually could offer 20x more capacity at each cell site using superior spectrum.


With the overlay initially focused on the most heavily-used urban areas, Clearwire estimate the CAPEX costs for an LTE overlay are $600 million. A typical market overlay can be completed in 12 months of initiating the build.


"This is the future of mobile broadband," said Dr. John Saw, Clearwire's Chief Technology Officer. "Our extensive trial has clearly shown that our 'LTE Advanced-ready' network design, which leverages our deep spectrum with wide channels, can achieve far greater speeds and capacity than any other network that exists today. Clearwire is the only carrier with the unencumbered spectrum portfolio required to achieve this level of speed and capacity in the United States."


Clearwire also noted that since launching its first 4G market in 2009, video has become the largest component of the company's overall data traffic and video traffic itself has increased more than tenfold since 2009.
http://www.clearwire.com

  • In August 2010, Clearwire began testing coexistence scenarios for WiMAX and LTE in Phoenix using both Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) of 40 MHz of spectrum paired in 2 x 20 MHz contiguous channels ("LTE 2X"), and Time Division Duplex (TDD) configurations using 20 MHz of spectrum. Initial tests have recently confirmed that the company's LTE 2X trial network achieved peak download speeds on commercially available equipment and devices in excess of 90 Mbps and upload speeds of more than 30 Mbps. Clearwire expects to conclude the tests in Q1 2011. The company later updated the test reports noting consistent 120 Mbps downlinks using TDD-LTE
  • Last month, Sprint and LightSquared announced a 15-year agreement that includes spectrum hosting and network services, 4G wholesale, and 3G roaming. The deal gives Sprint $9 billion in cash to build out its 4G network and provides LightSquared with a Tier-One partner for bringing its wholesale-only, nationwide LTE + L-Band broadband satellite service to market, should the FCC approve its GPS terrestrial interference mitigation proposals.

    Specifically, LightSquared will pay Sprint to deploy and operate a nationwide LTE network that hosts L-Band spectrum licensed to or available to LightSquared. As a wholesale-only carrier with separate core network operations, LightSquared can sell its 4G broadband capacity produced through this spectrum hosting relationship to Sprint, other wireless carriers, and retail partners.
  • In December 2010, Sprint unveiled its "Network Vision" for consolidating its infrastructure and spectrum into a single, more cost-effective and flexible network. The key idea behind Sprint's "Network Vision" is to operate a single network. Sprint currently uses separate equipment to deploy services on 800 MHz spectrum, 1.9 GHz spectrum and, through its relationship with Clearwire, 2.5 GHz spectrum. The New Vision blueprint calls for the deployment of multimode base stations for delivering 3G/4G services across all of these bands. New remote radio heads at the cell sites would be connected with fiber rather than coaxial risers. The consolidated cell site would be significantly more energy-efficient.

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