Clearwire CEO leaves door open for LTE

Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said he would be willing switch the operator's focus from WiMAX to rival 4G technology LTE if it was in the best interest of the company. While this is not the first time Clearwire has left the door open for LTE, it's clear the company is hedging its bets on the future of 4G.

Morrow said that the company, the leading proponent of WiMAX in the United States, could switch to LTE fairly easily if LTE becomes the dominant 4G technology, given its current network infrastructure.

"We're the only carrier that can do this," he told Dow Jones Newswires. "We'll do what's right for the business. Whether it's LTE, WiMAX, future technology X, it doesn't matter to me." Morrow said that for now, Clearwire is completely committed to WiMAX, emphasizing that the technology is commercially available today. "WiMAX is here today, and LTE is not," he said.

This is not the first time that Clearwire has intimated that it could be open to moving to LTE at some point. Former CEO Ben Wolff gave the same indications when he unveiled the company's "Clear" brand in December. "Mobile WiMAX and LTE have a lot in common--far more in common than either of these technologies have with today's 2G or 3G technologies," Wolff said at the time. "Consumers really don't care about the technology." Wolff said that Clearwire could move to LTE "if it makes sense for us to do so several years from now when LTE becomes commercially available."

The topic was the subject of a recent report by research firm Maravedis, which posited that Clearwire could deploy LTE in addition to WiMAX to remain competitive. "As the largest contiguous wireless broadband spectrum holder, Clearwire's challenge is to become a new type of facilities-based operator that can be parlayed through a growing array of partnerships to serve an open IP broadband market," Maravedis said. "Technology choice is not necessarily cast in stone, nor the most important determinant of long-term success." 

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this Maravedis release

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