Clearwire stages capacity discussions with cellcos; LTE rollout funding needed

27 Sep 2011

Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch has confirmed that the US WiMAX operator is in talks with a number of wireless carriers with a view to selling them capacity on its planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, as a way of securing sufficient funding to deploy the so-called ‘fourth-generation’ technology. According to Bloomberg, Prusch has admitted that the cash-strapped operator has commenced negotiations with AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS and Leap Wireless, although the discussions have yet to yield any conclusive wholesale partnerships. Prusch told Bloomberg: ‘All those discussions are under way. I am confident we will bring in new wholesale partners. Our message to the industry is that we have got the capacity to handle their needs. We are talking with everybody. We want to be the Switzerland of mobile broadband’. For its part, Sprint Nextel, Clearwire’s majority (54%) owner and largest wholesale customer, has indicated that it has no problems with Clearwire exploring the possibility of adding additional wholesale customers to its operations. Sprint spokesman Bill White said: ‘Their business is to be a wholesale provider of 4G capacity. They can sell to whoever they want to. We want Clearwire to be successful’.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August Clearwire announced its intention to roll out a new 4G network using LTE technology. The operator, which launched national WiMAX services in September 2008, said that it will ‘target densely populated, urban areas of Clearwire’s existing 4G markets where current 4G usage demands are high’. Clearwire also confirmed that the network will be ‘LTE-Advanced’-ready. The preliminary mobile communication standard LTE-Advanced was acknowledged by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in late-2009, and calls for peak download speeds of at least 100Mbps – which far exceeds those offered by today’s commercial networks. Clearwire’s announcement followed the successful completion of LTE trials that achieved download speeds exceeding 120Mbps.