Morrow stresses Clear's open architecture, vendor-agnostic network

CHICAGO--During today's 4G World keynote session, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow downplayed the WiMAX vs. LTE technology wars that have been prevalent at past wireless shows and instead said that WiMAX is here today and covering 450 million POPs worldwide.  However, he added, "I'm not saying LTE won't be here, but WiMAX will be here for some time and it's performing."

Morrow provided the audience with a sense of Clear's vision and business proposition. He talked about how new applications are driving bandwidth consumption and provided estimates that showed an average iPhone user in New York and San Francisco using 800 MBs per month, while a person watching one Netflix DVD will use 4.7 GB per download. He said to address this type of consumption and avoid latency issues, carriers need vast spectrum holdings and a network that is not built for voice, but for data and therefore uses a flat architecture. To do that effectively, Morrow said Clear decided to have an open architecture that is vendor agnostic. This allows the company to pick the best vendor for a product. "We lower the cost structure without the old proprietary walled garden," Morrow said.

Morrow also provided more insight into how Clear views its wholesale partners, such as the cable companies. Morrow said that Clear wants to build an open network and fundamentally change how people think about MVNOs. He envisions consumer electronics companies like Amazon hosting Kindle-type devices on the network and selling them through their own distribution channel. "If someone comes to us and says they have a distribution channel and they want to own the customer, but they need to be connected we can do that," Morrow said. "We are fundamentally changing the landscape."

Nevertheless, there are some things that the industry must do to promote this type of vision. Morrow said that infrastructure makers need to perfect battery power issues and find solutions to multi-radio devices, because those are the future. Secondly, he said developers need to come up with innovative applications and usage models. Third, he said device makers need to look beyond the PC-phone form factor and come up with new devices that fit many different types of needs. And fourth, he urged the network makers to look beyond the macro network and focus on picocells, because picocells and femtocells are going to be very necessary in the future.

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