In the midst of its recent push for additional funding past the end of the year which involves another fundraising round through a new debt sale. Clearwire has also seen signs of increased support within the industry as it continues its LTE network buildout, as chipmakers Sequans and Qualcomm have endorsed Clearwire’s forthcoming TD-LTE based network and have committed to supporting the beleaguered mobile broadband carrier with chipsets for its future devices and network interface hardware, focusing on multi-mode FD-LTE and TD-LTE chipsets for universal network access across both Sprint and Clearwire networks.
For Clearwire to receive support from Qualcomm is especially good news, as it shows that the bold move to transition from WiMax is being well-received by the industry despite the carrier’s well-known and documented funding issues. The news on the chipset support front is also underscored by the confirmation that the first 5,000 LTE cellsites are expected to be online by June 2013. The increased support may also mean that the mobile broadband provider has the potential to sign wholesale service agreements with AT&T and T-Mobile, though the reps for the company have so far refused to mention specific details on any negotiations with carriers.
For the short-term Clearwire is also expected to benefit from the additional customers added to its now legacy WiMax network as both Virgin and Boost Mobile announced their respective launch plans for WiMax devices and service earlier today. The additional customers are expected to benefit Clearwire financially as the service provider negotiated a new agreement with Sprint that is widely reported to be tilted in its favor in terms of revenue per customer compared to its last agreement, which set the boards of both companies against each other due to the dispute surrounding the amount paid to Clearwire per user for Sprint customers to access the WiMax network.
As it stands, Clearwire’s goals for its LTE network differ greatly from those of its WiMax network, with the increased focus on urban areas with massive 40MHz transmission channels for the highest speeds possible, while the WiMax network is being relegated to the second tier high-speed access option for customers in suburban areas outside of LTE service until the LTE network can be effectively expanded to cover those areas without fear of the spectrum issues that are currently plaguing other LTE providers such as AT&T, Verizon and smaller regional carriers such as US Cellular and MetroPCS.
The multi-mode chipset support that Clearwire is touting may also be the tipping point sorely needed for the possibility of inter-carrier LTE roaming, as all current US LTE networks are incompatible with each other on the frequency level and users are unable to roam onto other networks. Should the multi-mode chipset support lead to increased carrier interest, the current network silo situation for each LTE network in the US could become a non-issue, which would be the next step that leads to more widespread LTE adoption among consumers.