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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 3, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Clearwire launching superfast LTE network, 100 Mbps-plus

Kirkland wireless broadband company Clearwire announced today that it’s going to begin operating a superfast LTE network, in addition to the WiMax network that the company was built upon.

Its stock jumped 10 percent to close at $2.47, then fell 2 percent after the bell and after the LTE network was announced along with financial performance during the past quarter. Clearwire sales more than doubled during the quarter, but it continued to lose money.

The company said it’s still committed to WiMax, but it also has the spectrum and capacity to offer an LTE service that meets the demands of the market. With Verizon and AT&T rolling out LTE networks, the technology is emerging as the new standard for 4G networks providing speeds as fast as wired broadband connections.

“Clearwire plans to raise the bar again for mobile broadband service in the United States,” John Stanton, Clearwire’s interim chief executive, said in a release. “Our leadership in launching 4G services forced a major change in the competitive mobile data landscape. Now, we plan to bring our considerable spectrum portfolio to bear to deliver an LTE network capable of meeting the future demands of the market.”

Clearwire began testing “LTE Advanced” service in 2010 and achieved download speeds of more than 120 megabits per second. The company plans to provide the service initially in densely populated, urban areas where it already has high demand for its 4G service.

“This is the future of mobile broadband,” Clearwire Chief Technology Offier John Saw said in the release. “Our extensive trial has clearly shown that our ‘LTE Advanced-ready’ network design, which leverages our deep spectrum with wide channels, can achieve far greater speeds and capacity than any other network that exists today. Clearwire is the only carrier with the unencumbered spectrum portfolio required to achieve this level of speed and capacity in the United States.”

There is a big footnote in the announcement, though: The company said the LTE deployment “is subject to additional funding.”

There’s also a difference between peak speeds and real-world download performance, though.

Verizon began operating an LTE network and advises customers to expect download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA and AT&T have goosed their HSPA networks to get 4G speeds, with T-Mobile’s now capable of downloads up to 42 Mbps in some areas, including Seattle.

Clearwire announced its LTE plans along with its quarterly earnings report. It reported a net loss of $160.5 million on sales of $322.6 million during the quarter, which ended June 30. Its operating loss during the quarter was $911.6 million.

During the quarter, it added 1.5 million wholesale subscribers, a 31 percent sequential gain. It ended the quarter with 7.65 million subscribers, up 365 percent from the same period a year ago.

Comments | Topics: Clearwire

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