Clearwire announces transition to LTE as losses widen

Clearwire announces transition to LTE as losses widen
Just last week Sprint changed direction to LTE with a 15-year deal with LightSquared over the use of its 4G network, but now the carrier's current 4G WiMAX provider, Clearwire, stated that it plans to transition to an LTE-advanced network, built on top of what now exists after successful trials in Phoenix. The catch? Clearwire needs to raise the money first. 

The company posted a net loss of $168.7 million for the second quarter, wider than the $125.9 million it lost in the same period a year ago, but revenues nearly tripled to $322.6 million. The company added 1.5 million subscribers to bring its total to nearly 7.7 million, while Sprint has earlier said that it had sold 1.7 million phones using the 4G network. Clearwire also said it expects to swing into profit sooner than expected, probably in the first quarter of 2012, but it pointed out it needs even more funding.

Sprint's WiMAX was the first 4G network launched on a major carrier, but later both Verizon and AT&T announced plans for using LTE for their data networks. We've already outlined the differences between WiMAX and LTE, but how do Clearwire's LTE plans rate against LightSquared's LTE network? There are some key differences – first of all Sprint's current 4G provider aims to build an LTE-advanced network. This will supposedly offer speeds theoretically growing over 120Mbps. 

Second of all, LightSquared's LTE network has been plagued by one grave problem - GPS interference. Clearwire's CTO stressed the contrast: "Since we currently support millions of customers in the 2.5 GHz band, we know that our LTE network won't present harmful interference issues with GPS or other sensitive spectrum bands."

As rosy as it all sounds, Clearwire still doesn't have the money and building an LTE network is costly business. To put it in perspective, we should mention that Verizon is reportedly spending nearly a billion for each metro it adds, so until Clearwire finds the funds, the data provider's statement is more of a shot in the dark. Currently, the company is looking to raise $600 million to support its existing network and start the transition, but it theorized that Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS would want to access its future network.

You might have started wondering where is Sprint in that whole equation. The carrier actually hasn't confirmed any plans for developing LTE, but at the same time it hasn't expanded its WiMAX coverage much in 2011 either. It could in theory buy spectrum from both Clearwire and LightSquared, a deal that would mean you get rock solid coverage in urban areas. But that's only theory and the carrier itself said it hasn't made the decision yet and it will all become clear this fall, when Sprint announces its Network Vision Strategy.

source: Clearwire



1. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

First thing naysayers will spout is that "Sprint will leave it's WiMaxx users in the dust, and you will be left with a useless phone, and blah-blah-blah!!!" Sprint will have choices here. They will be able to balance Lightsquared LTE plans with whatever LTE plans Clearwire has. Incidently, though I do not have the actual link, Fierce had said that Clearwire was gearing up for this months ago. So Sprint knew it was coming when they inked a tentative deal with Lightsquared. WiMaxx users will not be left out in the cold anymore than iDEN users will be as Sprint dumps that network over the next 14 months or so. Sprint is in a great position. They are to come up with a plan to be able to balance a LTE transistion with the most fiscally viable option while still touting 4G to their customer base. Sprint gets to be able to say they were first with a true 4G network, a year ahead of their competition. Next couple years will solidify them as a true threat against AT&T and Verizon. At least that is the optimists version...

3. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Sprint is dumping the IDEN network. It has cost them billions over the years in operating costs that they never made up. Wimax wont be turned off any time soon, but it will eventually be turned off. Once they stop bringing out wimax phones and start only selling LTE phones they will start to phase it out. Of course, your talking at least 2-4 years after the last wimax phone gets off the shelf, so its not going to be any time soon. Sprints biggest Achilles heel has been that its operating too many networks that arent compatible with each other, or with competition to expand by roaming agreements. It has cost them an arm and a leg. LTE is a very smart move for them (if they use a similar signal to either VZW or LTE) so they can roam with other carriers until the build out is full. Who knows, maybe clearwire will be using similar frequencies as lightsquared and they can build out with both networks. That would be stellar as they could build a huge LTE network rather quickly that way.

2. AndroidTroll

Posts: 359; Member since: Mar 05, 2011

I wish Google would buy Sprint. They have the capital to build out the LTE network and they just do things better. Plus, I'm sure they would allow wifi calling and come up with killer phones and timely updates.

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

i was hoping they were in secret talks with buying Tmobile.. right up until the ATT announcement.. lol.

5. Phoneguy007

Posts: 218; Member since: Jun 02, 2011

Wireless market is to saturated with customer's switching back and forth to different companies so I dont think Google would buy them but it would be great if they did!

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