Clearwire Moving on to LTE; iPhone 5 Arrival on the Network Awaited

March 1, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Clearwire had a tough time a few months ago, but thanks to a cash infusion from Sprint Nextel, they have happily been revived.

They now plan to move on to a network standard called TD-LTE, which is slightly different than the FD-LTE variant that AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint are moving toward. And, Apple’s iPhone is making its rounds on all carriers, so what about Clearwire?

According to Clearwire CEO Eric Prusch, the company would benefit Apple to have an iPhone that ran on their kind of network technology. He added Apple wouldn’t have any difficulties in building an iPhone that is compatible with the network.

Clearwire is working with Sprint to ensure that the two different versions of LTE would work together, and Prusch said that there already exists a chip that can straddle both networks.  Qualcomm chips do that.

The advantages of running an iPhone on Clearwire’s network are many. For instance, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Apple to sell an iPhone that could run on both Sprint’s 3G network and Clearwire’s 4G network. Clearwire already helps Sprint with their 4G services.

Also, China Mobile, India’s Bharti, and Japan’s Softbank, which currently offers the 3G version of the iPhone, are committed to this standard. A total of 2 billion subscribers will be on TD-LTE by 2014.

Now, Clearwire is looking beyond Sprint and toward other wholesale customers. Prusch said the company has signed up customers to their WiMax service, but what LTE brings would open up the possibility for a lot of new customers looking to move to that 4G technology.

Remember LightSquared, which the FCC kind of killed off recently? Clearwire’s competition was that one as a wholesale alternative. But Prusch says the demise of LightSquared is not going to significantly benefit the company.

Neither does he believe Sprint’s plans to work with LightSquared had an impact on its relationship with Clearwire. “We’ve had confidence in their dependence on us, and us on them,” Prusch has been quoted as saying.

Clearwire is independent, and ready to provide some relief from those in need of spectrum. There are a lot of carriers that need a lot of spectrum, Prusch said.

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