Clearwire announced plans today to start trial testing 4G LTE technology this fall, a move that will not only allow the company to showcase the capabilities of the technology but also allow it to "examine a variety of potential future technology combinations."
The tests will be conducted through early 2011 in the Phoenix area.
With this move, Clearwire is shooting to be a major player in 4G technology - specifically both WiMax and LTE. Until recently, Clearwire had been restricted, via a deal with Intel, from using any 4G technology other than WiMax. But that deal is dead and Clearwire, with its spectrum to handle both technologies, is setting its sight on a leadership position in the future. In a statement, Clearwire CTO Dr. John Saw said:
As we have consistently stated, we remain technology agnostic, but WiMAX provides us with unique advantages to meet the needs of our customers today. Ultimately, consumers don’t care about technical acronyms, but they do care about quality and affordable Internet services that work where and when they want, and that's what we're focused on delivering. Part of our technical due diligence at Clearwire is to be prepared to leverage a number of possible opportunities as we future-proof our network, and that’s the goal of these tests.
Specifically, the company said it expects the trials to show that Clearwire's 4G network can "deliver significantly higher performance" of LTE than any competitor.
Say what you will about WiMax - which will likely have a pretty short shelf life once LTE devices starting hitting the scene - but Clearwire also noted that its commitment to the technology is still there. In fact, one of the trials that will take place later this year is to test the co-existence of both WiMax and LTE. Basically, Clearwire wants to know if the network is flexible enough and the spectrum is strong enough to support the a wide range of devices using both technologies.
In a post earlier this year, Larry Dignan noted that while the company's Clear brand shows some potential, wholesale 4G is critical for the future of the company. In a separate release today, Clearwire announced a wholesale agreement with Cbeyond, a provider of voice, broadband, mobile and IT apps for small businesses. The deal will allow Cbeyond to offer bundled 4G mobile Internet services in early 2011.
Finally, Clearwire also reported second quarter earnings that saw revenue jump by 93 percent from a year ago, up to $122.5 million. The company reported a net loss of $125.9 million, or 61 cents per share, including adjustments of $79 million related to "inventory allowance increases and write-offs." The company also raised its guidance for the year and said that it expects subscriber numbers to now reach 300 million - between Clear and wholesale partners - instead of the 120 million originally forecast.
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