Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) confirmed to FierceWireless that Chinese vendor Huawei is one of two vendors that will build its planned TD-LTE network. Huawei, Samsung and Motorola built Clearwire's existing WiMAX network, and Clearwire said it tapped Samsung and Huawei to upgrade its network to TD-LTE.
Clearwire's decision is notable because last month the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recommended that the U.S. government and U.S. companies avoid using equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE because the two vendors pose a security threat and potentially have ties to the Chinese military. Both Huawei and ZTE have denied those claims and so has the Chinese government.
In a statement to FierceWireless, Clearwire CTO John Saw said that there are no longer domestic suppliers of radio base station equipment and that Samsung and Huawei base stations are deployed at the edge of the network, while the core network equipment, or the "brains" of the network, is being provided by domestic vendors Cisco and Ciena.
In addition, Saw said the Huawei gear represents less than 5 percent of the company's total LTE spend and the company is working to reduce Huawei's footprint in the network. Saw also noted that Clearwire will use Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) for network management services.
Clearwire said it is subjecting every LTE base station vendor to a "Trusted Delivery Program" in which it requires that the vendors' base stations and software pass extensive testing by a U.S. government-approved third party company recognized for vetting critical infrastructure systems for security weaknesses.
Motorola sold its networks business to Nokia Siemens Networks in 2011.
Leap Communications also uses network gear from Huawei. Previously, Leap spokesman Greg Lund told FierceWireless that Huawei has "the smallest share of our business" from a network perspective.
Clearwire is in the early stages of deploying its LTE network and yesterday announced that it would significantly cut the number of TD-LTE sites it plans to deploy from 5,000 by mid-year 2013 to 2,000 sites. The company said that the reduction in TD-LTE sites was to better align its buildout with that of Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). Sprint plans to offload excess LTE data traffic onto Clearwire's network. For more information on Clearwire's third-quarter results, see this related article.
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