back to article Clearwire puzzles over LTE migration

Clearwire will start working out how to migrate to LTE, the world’s 4G standard, and whether it will cause problems with the firm's existing WiMAX network. Clearwire runs a WiMAX network across dozens of US cities, offering “4G” connectivity through dongle modems, an innovative iPad case and one handset. But the company has …


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  1. xj25vm

    How about high quality 3G first

    I don't know about others - but I just can't understand the move to 4G yet. I mean, the networks are congested as they are - and 3G is not running at full capacity at the user's end. And the mobile providers (and the ISP's) are complaining that we are using too much data and paying too little for it. I say, if they invest properly in 3G capacity - and I can get good and clear 1mbs or 2 mbs everywhere I go - I will be happy with 3G. What is the point in them spending money on 4G - when they didn't spend enough money so that we have enough of the theoretical max 7.2Mbs enough of the time? How am I going to be better off with their 4G networks at max 70mbs - when I will probably still get 300kbs because of insufficient network capacity?

    1. Simon 4


      Clearwire primarily provide an alternative to wired broadband services. You can use the service on the move with a dongle too, something they throw in with their big piece of kit for use in the home.

      My friend in Portland, OR, got rid of his cable TV box and cable internet and uses Clearwire instead. He gave up HD cable to go internet only.

      His connection has no silly usage caps and I know personally that it can take some hammering - something you can't do with a 3G phone or dongle.

      If I hadn't known my friend in the US I would have thought that no-one would want such a service. Turns out that not everyone likes the cable TV companies out there.

      My friend doesn't have a laptop, but realises how cool his USB dongle is - he can get the same sort of broadband on the move that he's used to at home.

      Congestion doesn't seem to be an issue in the way people experience it on 3G networks. This is not really a mobile phone company selling phones on the network and cheap data in your pocket. So they can afford to focus their investment in bandwidth. Upgrading to LTE follows their approach so far and would increase further the speed available to fixed and mobile users.

      It actually opens up new economic opportunities. I would certainly appreciate a reliable high speed connection on my laptop in the wild. I'd like to be able to upload Kodak Zi8 HD video, lickety split, when I'm with clients.

      Even with congestion, I'd rather have the net speed after congestion on a network that runs at 70Mbps than 7Mbps.

      1. Daniel B.

        Cable Sucks!

        Granted, I live in Mexico, not in the US... but over here, things are even uglier:

        - No publicly routeable IP for you. Everyone's forced to suffer behind NAT.

        - ALL P2P traffic is blocked.

        - The usual oversubscribing means your speed will go slow. That is, if the Cable ISP doesn't throttle you further.

        - The ridiculous "1 PC ONLY" rule which is even more ridiculous now that home networking gear manages NAT, and therefore bypasses this idiot rule.

        That said, 4G services won't be good over here unless some kind of unmetered wireless data package comes through. The 3G carriers have some kind of AUP that cuts you off at 3GB ... looks like they're taking advantage on people not knowing the difference between 3G and 3GB. Meh.

    2. Alan Thompson

      Fiber is the answer

      The carriers have/had to upgrade their back-haul (the connection from the tower to the Internet) in order to support 3G. Historically these connections have been 1.5Mbps T1s in the US (slightly faster in the EU with E1s). They only have limited options:

      1) they can go with multiple T1s, but it takes 5 of these to support 7.2Mbps

      2) they can go with a T3 (45Mbps), but these are expensive

      3) or they can go with fiber (up to 100,000Mbps and growing). This is slightly more expensive than a T3, but has the advantage that it *NEVER* has to be replaced again - just the electronics on either end.

      Naturally, the carriers are choosing fiber as the correct upgrade path - and since they are paying to have huge amounts of back-haul bandwidth available, they might as well SELL it! The limiting factor is simply the electronics in the handsets, hence the testing.

      Unlike traditional carriers, Clearwire started with fiber, and is anxious to be able to sell that bandwidth to the most people by whatever technology is available and popular. Currently WiMax is the only game in town, with LTE coming in the near future.

  2. Mage Silver badge

    networks are congested as they are -

    Because they *are* 3G.

    A 3G sector only reasonably supports about 5 simultaneous users. Two maybe if you watching YouTube HD.

    4G of course needs more spectrum to have any more capacity. 20MHz channel lets you have x4 more people at same speed (Operator's desire), or the same number of people at x4 speed (operator needs to charge x3 more then).

  3. Brett Brennan 1

    Sprint/Clearwire kicks ass!

    Been using Sprint's version of Clearwire's WiMAX for over a year now - mostly on Clearwire networks (seamless roaming there). The NOMINAL speed is equivalent or slightly faster than standard US$29.99/mo cable data - and that's consistent speed, not bursty. Even in places like Las Vegas, where there are a large number of WiMAX subscribers (especially along LV Blvd at the hotels), the speed is better than the US$14.99/day hotel broadband. That's using a Cradlepoint router or the little 4G hotspot box.

    I shake my head watching other folks using 3G AT&T modems struggle to send an email, while I'm watching full speed streaming video or downloading a Linux distro. Although I do have to admit frankly that where it works it works well (even at low signal strength), but when it's below 10%, it's dead, dead, dead. Of course, the same is true for 3G and WiFi...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Squirrel or not

    What we are talking about here is the RAN; Radio Access Network. Clear have the ability to move forward with the non standard wimax; non standard by means of immediate interoperability. Software defined radio chipsets are available and becoming credible, not long until BT's research is fully realised. (1996-7, SDR) spawned company called microwave photonics which aimed to commercialise the SDR. It will always be about sectors, base stations and backhaul.

    The inhibiting factors is the commercial, regulatory and political side which demands far more attention to this matter than any amount of 'user' focussed releases on this site. Essentially UK companies want LTE due to the patent royalties, intellectual property and child dependant companies. Qualcomm still has a lot to answer for regarding your mobile broadband capabilities. They're 'sweating' the intellectual property and inhibiting Wimax maturity by market saturation; a touch of thai Glam Rock springs to mind. If Wimax had both the technological and commercial development of the 'opposing' standard, LTE, your mobile experience and mobility would be significantly increased.

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