The day has finally come, Clearwire has announced that they’ll switch from WiMAX, the Intel backed 4G standard that no one is supporting, to LTE, which nearly every operator in the world is either in the process of rolling out or has plans to roll out at some point in the future. They didn’t announce when the transition will take place, but they did provide some rough details as to what they’ve got brewing. First, this switch “is subject to additional funding”, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re broke, and unless investors cough up some greenbacks, their LTE strategy will remain nothing more than a set of scribblings on a bar napkin. Second, they’re going to be using the TDD (time division duplex) flavor of LTE, not FDD (frequency division duplexing). The latter being more widely deployed since most operators owned paired spectrum. Don’t worry about that detail since it’s not going to impact you in any direct way. Third, their LTE network will be “LTE-Advanced Ready”, which we think implies that they’ll have an incredibly advanced radio network that will need nothing more than a software update to get the key feature of LTE-Advanced, which is channel bonding. With LTE you can have channels that are up to 20 MHz wide, with LTE-Advanced you can combine 5 of these channels to get an insane amount of bandwidth; Ericsson recently showed off LTE-Advanced in Sweden using 3x 20 MHz bonded channels and they nearly broke 1 Gbps.
Speaking about speed, trials of Clearwire’s proposed LTE network are now complete and they show that that they can reliably deliver “download speeds exceeding 120 Mbps”, which is impressive, but how low will that number go once their 7.65 million customers jump on the network? When you’re a a single engineer driving around in a van loaded with testing equipment, of course you’ll get some insane speedtest results.
Without further details we can’t really provide any additional commentary on the planned transition, but we’re incredibly pleased that it’s finally happening.