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Data usage continues to explode in unlimited channels. Is Clearwire positioned to be LTE relief for all Wireless Carriers?




Jeff Foster

Sprint 4G Rollout Update

Saturday, March 24, 2012 - 12:18 PM MDT



The forerunner of Clearwire was a Texas based company then known as Clearwire Technologies, Inc. Clearwire Technologies raised at least $100 million and used it to acquire spectrum allocated to various educational institutions known as EBS or Educational Broadband Service.


In 2007, Clearwire and Sprint Nextel announced a partnership to accelerate deployment of WiMAX technology across the US. In 2008, Sprint's new CEO Dan Hesse started serious discussions about forming a joint venture between the two companies in the hopes of bringing in outside funding. Sprint owns 54% of the firm; a consortium of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and Bright House Networks investing $3.2 billion and owning the balance.


Jump to today, and CLEAR 4G is available in 35 of the top 40 MSAs in the country covering 130 million people. Clearwire has had its shares of setbacks in the past several years with the promise of WiMax fading and the explosive growth of the newest 4G standard – LTE. Even with this impediment, Clearwire has something to crow about.


Clearwire TD-LTE is headed to some of the highest demand areas first


Clearwire CFO Hope Cochran, speaking at a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs, said her company has the resources that even the top national wireless carriers should envy. Cochran pointed out that Clearwire's network usage jumped more than 700% in 2011. The important thing to note here is that most of that data torrent was driven not by new subscribers, but by existing subscribers greatly increasing their data usage. "Customers are finding more applications and downloading more videos," she said.


This, according to Cochran, will be the Achilles' heel for AT&T and Verizon, as well as for Sprint.

Sprint will launch its LTE network in mid-2012. Cochran estimates that the LTE network that Sprint will deploy will be able to handle only 5.6 terabytes of data per site per year. AT&T and Verizon, which operate in a different frequency range, will have 22 terabytes per site per year capacity.


Clearwire's network carries 22 terabytes today. The company has ~16,000 WiMax cell sites and about one-half of them carry 80 percent to 90 percent of Clearwire's network traffic. Clearwire plans to overlay its WiMAX network with around 8,000 TD-LTE cell sites--Cochran said the move would allow Clearwire to put LTE capacity in areas where its network usage is the greatest.


Come and get it boys! Soup's on!!!


Clearwire is anticipating to have a tremendous amount of surplus capacity available. So when the big carriers run out of their capacity -- and Cochran thinks that will be sooner rather than later -- the big mobile carriers will have few options other than to divert their LTE traffic to Clearwire's network.


Clearwire's future is still very much dependent on its relationship with Sprint. If Clearwire can manage to keep its head above water until more regionals, and ultimately Verizon and AT&T reach the end of their spectrum, the network may indeed be able to reap rewards from the insatiable needs of the major carriers' subscribers.


As Cochran told the conference, "We see our own trends, and that is the appetite for data is tremendous."



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I Guess this is good for clear to stay in business but then its bad because it would mean sprint cant or wont be able to use all of clears available spectrum.

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Clear has some interesting options before it. I think Sprint (IMO) would like to keep Clear a separate entity so it can make these type of wholesale deals with its spectrum and become a stand alone firm without Sprint providing life support. Although with all the back and forth last year between the two, I think at times it would be easier to buy Clear and be done with it.

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This will be good for sprint though, first the number of LTE chips rising will mean lower prices. Second, even if this first LTE iPhone doesn't have support for the clearwire 2.5Ghz frequency, if all the other big players are using it, the next upgraded iPhone will probably support 2.5Ghz. Third, if clearwire is finally financially stable, not only will sprint not have to keep raising debt to keep them afloat, but they will also not have to carry the debt on their books.


As much as it would be nice for sprint to finally have a benefit of the larger amount of spectrum, this is a situation that will help sprint financially, and they defiantly need that. A better financial situation also means that there is a chance we keep 'unlimited' plans in the future, which is a big deal.

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Good points, assuming that Clear get's its network turned on in time, I think it will draw plenty of business now that LS2 is out of the picture. I believe that many firms are just sitting on the fence waiting to see if Clear can actually produce which I can understand since many were left holding the bag with LS2 signing so many firms and never had anything to show for it.


Not that it was LS2's fault but Clear doesn't have a great track record itself in the funding and build out department.

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