Clearwire details results of initial LTE testing

CHICAGO--Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert said the operator has recorded peak download speeds of 90 Mbps in its initial testing of LTE technology in Phoenix. The results are notable in that the carrier currently advertises that its WiMAX network provides download speeds of 3-6 Mbps, with bursts of 10 Mbps. For its part, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will provide real-world LTE download speeds on its forthcoming network of 5-12 Mbps.

Clearwire’s Mike Sievert discusses the company’s LTE tests in Phoenix.Sievert, speaking here at the 4G World trade show, noted that the speeds were recorded in a real-world driving scenario, though clearly in a test network unburdened by actual customers. Test results are often much different than speeds obtained in real-world wireless networks.

Clearwire announced earlier this year it would test LTE technology, and Sievert said the carrier hasn't yet made any decisions about its technological future.

"This is not something we have decided about, but that we're actively testing," he said.

Sievert said in Phoenix Clearwire is testing a WiMAX network alongside LTE network technology running in both 10x10 MHz and 20x20 MHz network configurations via equipment from Samsung and Huawei. He said Clearwire recorded download speeds of 50 Mbps in the 10x10 configuration, and 90 Mbps downloads (and around 30 Mbps uploads) in the 20x20 configuration.

"What you have here is something massively different," Sievert said. "This is a strategy for us to stay ahead."

Sievert did not provide any additional details on the tests. In August, Clearwire announced it would test LTE in Phoenix via 2.5 GHz - 2.6 GHz spectrum using both Frequency Division Duplex configurations (using paired in 20 MHz contiguous channels) and Time Division Duplex configurations (using a 20 MHz configuration). At the time, the carrier said it expected download speeds of 20 Mbps to 70 Mbps.

Sievert--who served as a last-minute replacement for planned 4G World keynote speaker Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow--did not address a number of issues surrounding the carrier, which is on track to cover 120 million POPs this year with WiMAX. According to published reports, Clearwire is auctioning unneeded spectrum to help fund its ongoing operations. Further, the company has confirmed negotiations with T-Mobile USA.

However, during his keynote Sievert did trumpet Clearwire's current strategy and business model. He said Clearwire is benefiting from additional WiMAX devices hitting the market; he said retailer Best Buy is expanding its lineup of Windows computers with built-in WiMAX service. Best Buy recently announced it would resell Clearwire WiMAX service. Sievert also said Clearwire is recording "big growth" of mobile video usage over its network.

"It's so exciting what's happening out there in the marketplace," he said.

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