Clearwire scores $715.5 million, plans to blow all of it on switching from WiMAX to LTE

Clearwire’s a bit of a funny compny. Sprint has a majority stake in them, yet they treat Clearwire like they’re some sort of distant relative that’s not really a relative at all. Thing is Sprint can’t actually function with Clearwire because Clearwire is responsible for delivering Sprint’s WiMAX network, the one that Sprint called 4G before Americans even heard the term 4G. Now the sad thing about WiMAX is that it doesn’t really deliver the kind of speeds that you’d actually call 4G. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network runs faster. Verizon’s LTE network is faster. Even AT&T’s insanely congested 3G network is faster. Clearwire clearly knows this, and they’ve said that they’re going to transition to LTE. Said transition doesn’t come cheap however, so the company recently tried to secure some funding by offering some shares. The market took the bait and Clearwire is now $715.5 million richer. It should be noted that Sprint is responsible for $331.4 million of that. Erik Prusch, the CEO of Clearwire, had this to say about the new round of funding:

“This equity raise is a critical step for Clearwire to achieve its long-term business plan of creating the first wide-channel TDD-LTE 4G network in the U.S. The added resources will enable us to continue delivering 4G mobile broadband service to meet the rapidly growing demand in the industry. We remain ideally and uniquely positioned to serve both wholesale and retail customers well into the future.”

So when will this network be up and running and just how fast will it be? Sprint’s saying that everything should be good to go by the second half of 2012. And as for the speed, back in January Clearwire uploaded a video showing a test LTE network they setup delivering 90 Mbps down and 30 Mbps up. Here’s hoping they can actually deliver on that, because the 5 Mbps to barely 10 Mbps on a good day they’re delivering now just doesn’t cut it.

That being said, how fast will Verizon’s LTE network be a year from now? More importantly, how much of America will it cover? It shouldn’t be underestimated how much catching up Clearwire and Sprint have to do right now.

[Photo above is of Sprint CEO Dan Hesse]

  • Clearwire speeds are being monitored by many independent firms and they speeds are much faster than regular 3G and T-Mobile and AT&T 3.5 HSPA+.  Only Verizon’s and AT&T’s new 4G LTE beats Clearwire’s 4G Wimax, but not Verizon’s 3G which is far slower that Clearwire.  So, in terms of present speed, it is Verizon and AT&T 4G LTE first, with Clearwire second and the rest are way back as less than Clearwire.  Check it all out with many independent test firms.
    Also, Verizon is far, far ahead of AT&T with 4G LTE coverage in the USA, by about a year according to many experts.  
    Clearwire is going to convert its present WiMax to 4G LTE where it has territory now.  They may also build more territory with this money to add some important cities that are not covered.  The cover about 130 POP in the USA.  Sprint will be trying to roll out its LTE variety in a coorinated with with Clearwire.  Sprint recently said they will be able to offer their own LTE phones in the second half next year, when they will have enough LTE sites up on their own propriety network and spectrum.  In the meantime, Sprint then uses Clearwire’s 4G Wimax and works with Clearwire to expand and covert them to LTE.
    Clearwire is working with China Mobile to develope LTE-TD variety while Sprint is working on LTE-FD.  Both varieites in the future can be merged with phone makers building with new chips and components. 
    Sprint is working to try to be ready for the next IPhone 5 out next year that will handle 4G LTE.

    • Links?

      • Guest

        Request sources to prove that ATT’s 3G is faster than CLWR. If your counting HSPA+ as that then I am willing to believe you but the problem is ATT markets their HSPA+ as 4G. 

    • Links?

  • Red777

    the problem is really that CLWR’s coverage is so thin that I often revert to 3G (cdma EV-DO) so the perception of speed from real life experience is not as good as its theoretical performance. And at the 2.5ghz frequency, the in-building penetration is atrocious, so it’s hard for a Sprint customer to enjoy access to the WiMAX network. Verizon is deploying LTE at both its 700mhz band (great in-building and fringe coverage) and AWS (1.7ghz/2.1ghz) bands so the perceived level of service is higher because more likely to actually have LTE coverage.

    CLWR’s deal with Sprint calls for it to only light up “hotspot” coverage where Sprint needs to supplement its new LTE network (that will be at 1900mhz  initially and overlayed with 800 mhz as iDEN frees up spectrum). Theoretical speed on a shared network is not particulalry meaningful, it’s really average speed that users will experience based upon loading. Speed=capacity.  I suspect that all the carriers will try to design a relevant competitive user experience, whatever “fat pipe” advantage CLWR has in speed will be used up since it will be designed to serve hotspots with heavy usage (i.e. diluting the “speed” advantage with heavy loading in order to serve more cusotmers).  Hoever, this is not to say that Sprint may not enjoy a marketing advantage by touting this “speed” in its advertising because ultimately “perception is reality” — same reason that T-Mobile and AT&T started claiming their HSPA+ networks were 4G.  The user didn’t really care whether it was technically defined as 4G (nobody really qualified) but they did realize that it was a substantial improvement over W-CDMA/UMTS network (so-called 3G on GSM) that they had.   

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