Clearwire's Move to LTE Clearer Than Ever

Carl Weinschenk

eWeek's Michelle Maisto made a good catch when she elevated a pretty important point that was buried deep within a CNET story on Clearwire. The company, according to the CNET piece, is more committed than ever to switching 4G horses in midstream.

The salient passage from the piece, which quotes Clearwire Chief Operating Officer Erik Prusch:

He also said that Clearwire will eventually move away from its WiMax technology and move toward a network that uses LTE. But he said plans are not definite and there is no timeline for such a switch.
"WiMax to date has been a very good technology choice for us," he said. "We were able to take advantage of the speed to market before LTE was even a glimmer in anyone's eye. But we recognize the ecosystem in the U.S. will be larger for LTE than WiMax, so we are conscious of that."

Prusch added that the LTE ecosystem must mature before a switch is made.

This clearly isn't a revelation. <strong>Clearwire has openly been testing LTE for a while</strong>. The full transition - from denials of testing to grudging acknowledgement to the recognition that it only is a matter of time before the switch is made - is almost complete. Setting a date and making the switch are the last pieces of the puzzle, which will come.

At one point, WiMax and LTE were two significantly different answers to the 4G question. LTE slowly pulled ahead, though the technologies themselves, experts say, are similar. WiMax was first on the scene, and Clearwire - which markets its brand as Clear - was, and for that matter still is, the biggest 4G play. LTE, while not as mature, was chosen by AT&T and Verizon and was therefore destined to win. Sprint, which is half owner of Clearwire, also has hinted at using LTE alongside WiMax, according to the eWeek piece.

Clearwire also announced that it is retaining Ericsson to manage its network. This will involve essentially the transfer of 700 employees from the carrier to the vendor. The bottom line is that Clearwire continues to struggle and one of the predicted technology battles a few years ago - WiMax versus LTE - has turned out to not be much of a contest.

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