Clearwire Considers A Role For LTE Along With WiMAX

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Clearwire, Kirkland, Wash., is planning to test its 4G LTE technology starting this fall in Phoenix, Ariz., with an emphasis on looking at how LTE can coexist with WiMAX.

With the tests, Clearwire becomes the last major U.S. broadband provider to drop exclusive support of the rival WiMAX wireless broadband technology and join other wireless companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in supporting LTE, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

LTE, or 3GPP Long Term Evolution, is the next standard in wireless broadband technology, and provides for downlink peak rates of at least 100 Mbps and uplink peak rates of at least 50 Mbps.

Many of the industry's wireless broadband providers and equipment manufacturers are developing products to take advantage of LTE, including Clearwire, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Nokia Siemens, Motorola, LG Electronics, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Vodaphone, and others.

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Clearwire said it will test both Frequency Division Duplex (FDD LTE) and Time Division Duplex (TDD LTE) technologies. Under FDD LTE, the transmitter and receiver operate at slightly different frequencies so that both sides can do both operations at the same time. With TDD LTE, the transmit and receive signals are sent separately.

Clearwire said it expects its FDD LTE download speeds to range between 20 Mbps and 70 Mbps, which it said is much faster than the 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps speeds that other LTE deployments in the U.S. are expected to offer.

Clearwire is working with Huawei, the first broadband service provider in Europe to offer LTE technology, to do the tests.

As part of the test, Clearwire will use its existing Samsung Electronics' common base station platform, now being used for mobile WiMAX deployments, to determine the best way for end-user devices to take advantage of a potential multi-mode WiMAX/LTE network.

The company said it is committed to using WiMAX technology for its current 4G build plan, and is exploring how to enable LTE technology to coexist with WiMAX.