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So what happens to Clearwire’s WiMAX network

Clearwire (s CLWR), the wireless broadband company, on Wednesday announced that it is trying out a new LTE-Advanced-based network that would allow it to offer a network with speeds of 120 Mbps. To our readers, it wouldn’t come as a surprise — both Stacey and I have reported on the eventual move to LTE for Clearwire. It was more than a year ago when we first got the whiff of this likely LTE trial.

In an October 2009 post, Colin Gibbs noted that “Clearwire is locked into WiMAX — and barred from deploying LTE — until late 2011 under terms of a deal with its biggest investor, Intel.” Well time is up on that deal and it is hardly a surprise that the company is seriously and publicly contemplating a LTE move.

The question is when will they make the switch? I asked Clearwire if they had a concrete timeline as to when they would roll out the new network and if, they would sunset the WiMAX network anytime soon. The message from Kirkland, Washington headquarters of Clearwire was pretty succinct:

We plan to continue operating the WiMAX network for a period to continue serving the millions of subscribers still using that network. There’s no timeline for a sunset. We don’t have a launch date for LTE as it is contingent on additional funding.

What that means is that you can continue to use their network and your old WiMAX based devices if you are a customer of Clearwire or one of their partners, Sprint (s S) and Comcast (s CMCSA) for example.

Check out our previous Clearwire + LTE coverage:

3 Responses to “So what happens to Clearwire’s WiMAX network”

  1. Remember, the primary difference between WiMax and LTE is that WiMax targeted operators that wanted to just roll out data services and could be independent of a voice network. There was less ‘overhead’ from an operator standpoint. By way of Sprint, which uses the Clear 4G network to support a ton of current subscribers’ devices, there is huge value in the Clear network. Clear also has a huge nationwide spectrum footprint, which means they can run LTE on a new slice of spectrum without touching what they have in place and leverage a lot of their existing tower locations and assets in place. I expect to see the current 30 MHz slice of spectrum to continue to service WiMax subscribers and devices for quite a while, and their remaining 60 or 90 MHz slice could easily be allocated to LTE.

  2. I doubt it will sunset anytime soon, especially with new WiMAX/LTE chips coming from folks like Sequans. Why not a hybrid WiMAX/LTE device in the near future? It’s not like these things already don’t have multiple radios. And they should be able to run some of both networks off the same core since WiMAX and LTE are both IP…