Top WiMAX operator Yota chooses LTE over WiMAX for new market rollouts

Russian operator Yota, one of the world's top WiMAX operators, dealt a blow to the WiMAX community by announcing plans to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in five Russian cities this year.

However, it appears the operator will continue using WiMAX for the time being in markets it has already rolled out, including Moscow, St. Petersburg and three other Russian cities. It supports more than 500,000 subscribers in those markets. The operator is also active in Belarus, Peru and Nicaragua.

"The only reasons we are delaying its launch everywhere is the fact that LTE technology is so new," the company told Reuters in an email. Yota had planned to roll out WiMAX in 15 more cities, but now they will have LTE, Yota said. The operator plans to spend $100 million on its rollout in the five markets.

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) has increasingly voiced its interest in deploying LTE. During its latest quarterly conference call with analysts, Clearwire announced it changed the terms of an agreement it has with Intel that allow either party to exit the deal with 30 days notice. The previous agreement had forced Clearwire to use WiMAX through Nov. 28, 2011. CEO Bill Morrow recently indicated the company wouldn't deploy LTE until at least 2012.

"The decline of growth in WiMAX and shift to tier one suppliers who are prepared for a transition to LTE as it becomes widely available now signals a rapid deterioration in WiMAX and its chances of achieving mainstream market momentum," said Robert Syputa, senior strategic analyst and advisor with Maravedis. "It remains to be seen if WiMAX momentum will continue in India and North America. We now forecast that Clearwire will shift at least part of their deployments to LTE by the end of 2011."

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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Clearwire: No LTE switch until 2012 at the earliest
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