Sprint: Clearwire's LTE will 'pinpoint' high-traffic areas

Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Iyad Tarazi said the company's work with Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) on LTE will be more efficient and targeted than its work with Clearwire on mobile WiMAX. Tarazi, vice president of Sprint's network development and engineering, made his comments during a Wells Fargo investor event, and he was joined onstage by Clearwire CTO John Saw--the joint appearance of the executives highlights the tight partnership Sprint and Clearwire have forged on their coordinated LTE buildouts.

sprint Iyad Tarazi


Tarazi said during his appearance at the Wells Fargo Securities 2012 Wireless Spectrum Symposium that Sprint learned several important lessons from its mobile WiMAX wholesale deal with Clearwire. Though Tarazi made clear that Sprint considers its WiMAX efforts a success, he said the company's LTE efforts with Clearwire will focus more on capacity and less on coverage.

Specifically, Tarazi said Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network buildout competed with the resources that Sprint could have spent on its own network. With LTE, however, Tarazi said Sprint and Clearwire are working together to drop Clearwire's LTE base stations in locations where Sprint believes it will need them--rather than building out a network that would fully overlap Sprint's own LTE network

"We're going to pinpoint the [Clearwire] investment where we have the traffic," Tarazi explained, noting that 30 percent of Sprint's sites generate 70 percent of its overall traffic.

Sprint recently switched on its first handful of FDD-LTE markets. Clearwire, meanwhile, is planning to turn on 5,000 TDD-LTE base stations starting in June of next year. Sprint announced in December 2011 that it would invest up to $1.6 billion into Clearwire, and that it would use Clearwire's LTE network to supplement its own LTE build.

Interestingly, Tarazi said that Clearwire essentially replaces Sprint's need to offload its traffic to Wi-Fi. He said Sprint's coordinated LTE buildout with Clearwire will provide many of the benefits of Wi-Fi offload along with more effective handoff and traffic management.

"The Clearwire spectrum is our way of doing" Wi-Fi offload, Tarazi said. (To be clear, Sprint has previously said that Wi-Fi offloading will also be a part of its Network Vision network modernization plan.)

In other Clearwire news, the company announced that it signed a "non-binding memorandum of understanding" with China Mobile that will pave the way for TDD-LTE roaming between the two carriers. Clearwire and China Mobile are working together to promote the market for TDD-LTE technology.

For more:
- see this Clearwire release
- see this Wells Fargo webcast

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