Clearwire has announced intentions to roll out LTE Advanced 31 launch markets for its forthcoming TD-LTE network. In contrast to its previous launch pattern with Clear WiMax in 2008, Clearwire will focus on major urban markets first with 20×20 MIMO TD-LTE deployments which it calls ‘hot zones” within those markets for high usage areas, while deploying more conventional cellsites with conventional paired spectrum deployments in suburban areas, in a major change from its previous deployment strategy taken into account from the launch of national WiMax service in 2008.
The first 31 markets will launch by mid-June, with New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and other yet to be named markets being the recipients of the “hot zone” status which would allow them to offer the upgraded network to customers while the expansion outward will take into account recently signed agreements with Sprint and Leap Wireless for wholesale LTE access and Clearwire has also confirmed negotiations for partners for new devices and services to run over its TD-LTE network while Simplexity and FreedomPop have also signed agreements with Clearwire for wholesale access.
Clearwire CEO had this to say after the service was announced yesterday in a separate earnings call about the carrier’s plans to offer an LTE network with 20MHz carrier bonding:
“As a result of this accomplishment, and our ownership and control of large swaths of clear and contiguous spectrum nationwide today, we believe we will be the first operator in the U.S. to push the limits of LTE technology, giving us the advantage of offering the fastest speeds and the highest capacity network in the nation”
While Clearwire has announced its intention to roll out LTE and has made statements to the effect that it is on schedule regarding milestones in network building, but it has yet to finalize network equipment vendor selection and chipset support for devices and network equipment.
Even as all of these positive announcements were made yesterday, Clearwire still faces significant cashflow issues owing to its problems with keeping its current WiMax network competitive in the face of LTE and has yet to post a solid operating profit in 4 years since its inception as Clear, while Sprint continues to support the carrier financially. While the carrier has enough operating cashflow to last the year, what remains to be seen is how the carrier will fare after the year is out and whether Sprint will make a move to purchase it outright before then.
At least with the news of the LTE network, it’s apparent that Clearwire wants to correct the mistakes it made with its WiMax launch while simultaneously launching a network that can compete with AT&T and Verizon on paper. with the potential to surpass the performance of both networks if the rollout is handled according to plan.