Clearwire has made this move to follow the general trend of LTE adoption by all the main carriers in the U.S. Even its long lasting partner (and owner of 49.8 percent of Clearwire), Sprint, announced an agreement with LTE wholesale network provider LightSquared over a $15 billion deal. Despite Clearwire’s positive results in terms of new subscribers (+1.8 million for Q1 2011), the company announced the addition of an “LTE Advanced-Ready” technology to its previously 4G WiMAX-only service. Even though Clearwire’s intentions are no surprise, this announcement seems to seal the deal for WiMAX technology.
The new network should be deployed first in areas with high 4G demand, meaning major urban centers in their existing 4G WiMAX market. The LTE-Advanced provided by Clearwire will most likely operate on the 2.5GHz spectrum of which Clearwire owns a very large share and which it already uses for the WiMAX network. Implementing LTE on existing infrastructures will allow higher flexibility in deployment and reduce expenditures. The company claims it will be able to deliver data transmission speeds up to 90 MBps (achieved during trials in Phoenix).
Clearwire announced that it would not stop expansions for its WiMAX network, provided that it can obtain additional financing. This dual offering represents a potential opportunity for Clearwire and partner company Sprint to pick up quite a bit of market share by offering more competitive 4G performances on both technologies.
LTE technology has gained huge momentum in recent years, carried by Verizon’s successful marketing and deployment. This move is also relevant to Sprint’s decision to offer LTE too. The only glitch in the plan is that Clearwire will probably require additional funding to fully implement its LTE desires, making it difficult to give a timeline just yet.