WiMAX Advocate Clearwire Eyes Long Term Evolution

AUSTIN, TXThe US mobile-broadband industry received a big shot in the arm with the announcement that Clearwire Corp. completed its transaction with Sprint Nextel Corp. to combine their next-generation wireless-Internet businesses. However, some of the statements made by Clearwire Corp. CEO Ben Wolff may indicate a shift in strategy for the next-generation network operator, which has built a WiMAX roadmap. In a conference call, Wolff stated, "We should assume that LTE will gain traction" and "our vendors will be able to deliver network infrastructure equipment to us that will enable us to operate mobile WiMAX and LTE technologies."

According to IMS Research Analyst Bob Perez, "Although it sounds like Clearwire may be rethinking its decision to build out a nationwide mobile-broadband network using WiMAX technology, the truth is that the operator is still planning to aggressively roll out a mobile WiMAX network over the next few years." Over the next five years, IMS Research is forecasting 7.8 million WiMAX subscribers compared to 2.5 million LTE subscribers in the US. However, the number of LTE subscribers is expected to surpass that of WiMAX in the long term.

Perez went on to say, "Although mobile WiMAX and LTE are roughly 80 percent the same, deploying both technologies would present some significant challenges, as no Tier 1 vendors have publicly announced any dual-mode WiMAX/LTE infrastructure solutions." According to IMS Research, the main reason Clearwire would look to deploy LTE would be to take advantage of economies of scale that are not expected to take place until 2012 at the earliest. IMS Research's report, "Mobile Broadband: 4G Network Evolution" provides an in-depth analysis of the market for both WiMAX and LTE infrastructure equipment.

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