Clearwire unfazed by Chinese delay on TD-LTE licenses

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) said it remains on track with its plans to deploy a TDD-LTE overlay network despite reports that the Chinese government will delay awarding TDD-LTE licenses there for two to three years. Clearwire has been collaborating on TDD-LTE testing and device development with China Mobile, and the growth of TDD-LTE in China has been seen as crucial to the development of the broader TDD-LTE ecosystem.

According to an IDG News Service report, which cited comments Miao Wei, the head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, made during an interview with local, state-owned TV, China won't dole out TDD-LTE licenses for up to three years. The report noted that because China wants to roll out TD-LTE by upgrading existing base stations that use its homegrown TD-SCDMA standard, the government will not offer TD-LTE licenses until operators there have doubled the number of TD-SCDMA base stations deployed from the current 220,000 to 400,000. China also wants to give vendors time to develop handsets that are compatible with TDD-LTE networks before issuing licenses.

"Clearwire continues to move forward with our LTE network plans and to participate in our cooperative arrangement with China Mobile," Clearwire spokeswoman Susan Johnston told FierceWireless. "LTE remains an important opportunity globally and we expect manufacturer interest in offering TDD-LTE/FDD-LTE options, like Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Gobi Modem, to remain high."

Clearwire has said it expects to deploy its first wave of 5,000 TDD-LTE cell sites by June 2013. Clearwire has been working with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), its majority owner and largest wholesale customer, to identify sites for Clearwire's planned TDD-LTE network. Clearwire is looking to deploy its LTE Advanced-ready TDD-LTE network mainly in urban areas, where traffic is heaviest.

In January Clearwire announced it would partner with China Mobile to conduct joint interoperability testing for TDD-LTE networks to accelerate the deployment of TDD-LTE devices. The two companies, in conjunction with the Global TD-LTE Initiative, announced common test specifications and joint interoperability testing for TDD-LTE devices for frequencies including 2.3 GHz and 2.7 GHz. The carriers will establish testing labs featuring a joint test platform and interoperability environment for TDD-LTE devices; Clearwire said it will conduct its testing in Phoenix and Herndon, Va. Clearwire and China Mobile said the labs will allow for the evaluation and qualification of commercial TDD-LTE devices simultaneously in the U.S., China, and other markets, using common testing methodology, equipment and infrastructure.

For more:
- see this FierceBroadbandWireless article

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