Clearwire has announced that they are beginning trials of their new upcoming TD-LTE network, in conjunction with their GTI (Global TD-LTE Initiative) partner, China Mobile. Clearwire will deploy their TD-LTE in Phoenix, Arizona and Herndon, Virginia. China Mobile will deploy theirs in Beijing and other Chinese communities.
As part of the interoperability testing, devices from each others networks will be used to confirm compatibility. The goal of the GTI partnership is to create a device and network ecosystem in which TD-LTE deployed globally between 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz will be fully compatible. To allow for global LTE roaming capabilities and also create one large marketplace for manufacturers to develop chipsets and devices that will work on these frequencies.
Also, a collaboration and creation of such a large LTE worldwide band will provide for the ability of these carriers to benefit from economies of scale. If all these carriers go it alone and try to get manufacturers to support just their small frequency set for their limited number of customers, the costs are much higher and also the number of devices available to them will be more limited. Creating such a large interoperable LTE band will be a significant advantage for carriers working in these frequency sets the world over.
Clearwire beginning TD-LTE trials is deemed as quick progress given that Sprint just chipped in LTE funding for them in the past 30 days. Sprint will be utilizingClearwire’s TD-LTE network for additional LTE capacity. Sprint will be calling onClearwire to add additional TD-LTE carriers to its Network Vision towers as Sprint’s new LTE carriers start to reach capacity. Sprint’s LTE carriers will probably start filling up in dense markets as soon as 2013/2014. Sprint is not expected to release devices that support TD-LTE on Clearwire frequencies until 2013.
Clearwire will be deploying its own TD-LTE as well, separate from additional capacity for Sprint. That deployment is expected to begin before the end of 2012. Clearwire has said in the past they will begin a TD-LTE rollout in existing WiMax cities first. However, they will not likely be rolling out TD-LTE to every WiMax market. Preferring to focus on key primary markets first.
It is also anticipated that Clearwire will deploy its LTE in 20MHz TDD carriers. In early testing, this provided download speeds above 60MB, with some results over 90MB. It will be interesting if this kind of carrier deployment actually occurs, but would give Clearwire some potent bragging rights.
Currently, Clearwire has WiMax on three carriers in most of the communities it serves. It’s believed that they will reduce the number of carriers to two or one in areas as they rollout TD-LTE. The remaining WiMax carriers will stay in operation through 2015. The final details regarding carrier deployment, carrier sizes, frequencies, etc. will likely not be cemented until after successful trails are completed in Phoenix, Herndon and China.
Photo courtesy of PhoneDog.com