It may only be two characters long, but the term 4G has had no problems making its way into national headlines. Given all the chatter about 4G deployments and standards, we would like to share with our blog readers a video that was originally shared at the recent 4G World® Conference in Chicago. The following video and Q&A describe Clearwire’s LTE trials as well as provide a candid dialogue with Dr. John Saw, Clearwire’s CTO, explaining why these trials were conducted, why spectrum size matters, and what these trials mean for the future of Clearwire.
First, the video:
Note that these speeds were achieved on an unloaded network so they are higher than what the average consumer would see in a real-world scenario. Even on a loaded network, Clearwire’s spectrum advantage could allow it to provide people with the fastest 4G service in the U.S.
Next up is an Q&A transcript from a recent conversation with Dr. John Saw that puts perspective on the video you just watched:
Clear Blog: Remind our readers, what are these technical trials all about?
Saw: In Phoenix we are conducting 4G LTE technology trials to test multiple coexistence scenarios between LTE and WiMAX radio technologies. The goal is to basically see what we’re capable of and show wireless speeds that are unmatched in the U.S.
Clear Blog: And how are the results looking?
Saw: Fast. We’ve clocked download speeds of 50Mbps using 10MHz channels and 90Mbps using 20MHz channels.
Clear Blog: How does this compare to the competition, specifically Verizon?
Saw: Verizon claims to have download speeds between 5Mbps and 12Mbps using LTE in 10×10MHz blocks. But with our “LTE 2X” we’re using 20×20MHz blocks and the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. This isn’t your grandfather’s LTE. But it is also important to point out that, while the early speed test results are mind-blowingly impressive, they were done on an unloaded trial network.
Clear Blog: Why are we able to show such faster 4G speeds than the competition?
Saw: Basically it comes down to our spectrum position, which is far bigger than that of other carriers. It allows us to use wider channels which can deliver faster connections. Think of it like the number of lanes on a freeway. We have more lanes, which means we can have a lot more traffic driving at faster speeds.
Clear Blog: Is Clearwire moving to LTE?
Saw: Today we are simply conducting trials in order to plan for the future, see what’s possible, and consider all of our options. We’re a technology agnostic company – we always have been – and we’re focused on doing what’s best for the customer. Today that’s WiMAX. Potentially in the future that could be WiMAX and LTE. The great thing about our network is that it’s built in a way that if we did add LTE at some point we could reuse our existing core infrastructure, backhaul, and spectrum.
Clear Blog: So what’s next?
Saw: We just completed our 2010 build. The last three months of this year have been huge for us as we officially turned on New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, so we’ve been pretty heads-down on building the network which now covers 71 markets and offers 4G services to more than 110 million people, making Clearwire the largest 4G network in the United States. The trials though in Phoenix are continuing and it’s really exciting, motivating to see these early results.