Clearwire and Sprint Plan More 4G Networks, Current Ones Limiting Spectrum Efficiency

By September 28, 2011
A connected US

Some telecoms are putting resources into higher speed networks. Its a good thing, since most owned spectrum is not being optimized for today's mobile consumers.

Clearwire may sell capacity on its planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to a numer of wireless carriers as a way of funding this type of network on a larger scale. CEO Erik Prusch explained in telecom data publication Telegeography Tuesday that the "cash-strapped" US WiMAX operator is in talks with "AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS and Leap Wireless, although the discussions have yet to yield any conclusive wholesale partnerships." Prusch plans to furnish capacity to the telecom industry, and his company wants "to be the Switzerland of mobile broadband." 

In August, Clearwire announced its intention to roll out a new 4G/LTE tech network. These services will be targeting high 4G demand areas of "densely populated, urban areas of Clearwire’s existing 4G markets." This network will be "LTE-Advanced ready," which has peak download speeds of over 100Mbps - much faster than our current commercial networks.

This development comes in tandem with CNET's scoop from Roger Cheng that Sprint Nextel will be developing its own 4G/LTE network. Cheng's source says the company is already installing and testing the network, according to his source, possibly due to the failure of Clearwire to maintain an edge over Verizon Wireless's LTE network. But Sprint is majority owner of Clearwire and its largest wholesale customer, so their plans seem to parallel strangely if Cheng is correct.

Whatever the reason for the possible redundancy, this new infrastructure will allow Sprint "to offload some of its 3G data traffic onto 4G, relieving a growing burden," according to Cheng. This is due to Sprint's number of subscribers and their data usage habits, not to spectrum limit concerns that some predict will occur. 

The FCC's chairman Julius Genachowski predicted in 2009 that when smartphones were more widespread, the constant data would consume all available bandwidth spectrum. But a recent study rebutted this view, and as ReadWriteWeb reports, only about 35.7 percent of wireless communications spectrum is being used. Analysts from Citi Investment Research & Analysis call the spectrum issue not a shortage, but that those who own the spectrum are not planning on monetizing it. Only 192 of the 538 MHz of owned wireless spectrum is in use, and at least ninety percent is being used by old networks with limited transmission speeds.

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas