Clearwire Announces 4G LTE Technology Trials in Arizona

Wireless network operator Clearwire plans to conduct tests of its LTE 4G network in Phoenix, where it hopes to confirm the capability to produce real-world download speeds that range from 20 to 70 Mbps.

Clearwire, a provider of wireless broadband services and operator of the largest 4G network in the country, announced plans to conduct 4G LTE technology trials in collaboration with Huawei Technologies. Huawei is the same infrastructure provider that deployed the first commercial LTE network in Europe. They also plan to test multiple coexistence scenarios between LTE and WiMAX radio technologies. The tests will be conducted in the fall and throughout early 2011 in Phoenix.

The company said it expects to conduct tests across three key areas: Conduct FDD LTE (Frequency Division Duplex) tests using 40 MHz of spectrum-paired in 20 MHz contiguous channels-of its 2.5 GHz spectrum; TDD LTE (Time Division Duplex), in a 20 MHz configuration, which is twice the channel size currently used in its 4G WiMAX deployments; and WiMAX co-existence with both FDD LTE and TDD LTE to confirm the flexibility of its network and spectrum strength to simultaneously support a wide-range of devices across its all-IP network.

Concerning the FDD LTE tests, Clearwire said it expects to confirm the capability to produce real-world download speeds that range from 20 to 70 Mbps. The company said these speeds are expected to be "significantly faster" than the 5 to 12 Mbps currently envisioned by other LTE deployments in the U.S., which will rely on smaller pairs of 10 Mhz channels or less.

The company also restated its commitment to use WiMAX technology for its current 4G build plan. Since the company expects that a significant number of LTE devices will be available in coming years, Clearwire is conducting technical trials to determine how it could potentially add LTE technology to coexist with WiMAX, according to a company release.

"Clearwire's unmatched spectrum and all-IP network make us the only service provider in the U.S. able to conduct tests of this nature and on this scale," said John Saw, Clearwire's chief technology officer. "As we have consistently stated, we remain technology agnostic, but WiMAX provides us with unique advantages to meet the needs of our customers today."

Saw said that, ultimately, consumers don't care about technical acronyms, but they do care about quality and affordable Internet services that work where and when they want, and that's what Clearwire is focused on delivering. "Part of our technical due diligence at Clearwire is to be prepared to leverage a number of possible opportunities as we future-proof our network, and that's the goal of these tests," he said.

Clearwire will also be testing LTE on Samsung Electronics' common base-station platform, which it currently uses for its mobile WiMAX deployments. During the trials, Clearwire will collaborate with Beceem, and other partners, to determine the best methods for enabling end-user devices to take advantage of a potential multi-mode WiMAX/LTE network.

Other participating vendors in Clearwire's technical trials will be named at a later date, the company said. "In addition, due to the global dominance of the 2.5 GHz - 2.6 GHz spectrum band, a number of large wireless operators are expected to participate with Clearwire on these tests," a company release disclosed. "Additional details about those companies are also expected to be disclosed at a later date."