What impact will a struggling economy have on WiMAX and LTE?

Could we see analysts recalculating their projections for WiMAX and LTE soon in light of the struggling economy? This week Forbes is questioning whether Sprint and the new Clearwire, which is expected to include Sprint's WiMAX network in the fold by the end of the year, can pull off a nationwide launch in a troubled economy. While Clearwire will have $3.2 billion from partners Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner and Brighthouse, it will need to raise an additional $2 billion to complete the network.

But then again, Clearwire could gain an advantage if the credit crunch lingers. Competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless plan to deploy LTE and would likely freeze any deployments. For AT&T, such a deployment could be more than five years away as the operator doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to deploy the technology. During Trendsmedia's 4G event in Chicago earlier this month, the operator reiterated its position that its HSPA and HSPA+ 3G network technology still had a lot of life left in it, and that LTE technology would not be rolled out for at least another three years--and probably not on a large commercial scale for another five years. Certainly that's not good for vendors that want to see operators invest in new technology soon.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether the new Clearwire can hook consumers on new technology in a tough economy. Critics already question whether Clearwire has the wherewithal to shake up the industry with a new offering with a new brand. A struggling economy doesn't help that effort.--Lynnette

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