Sidecut Report on Clearwire

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Paul Kapustka’s latest Sidecut Report has a look Inside Clearwire. The report is based on extensive interviews with Clearwire’s chief technology officer, Dr. John Saw, as well as representatives from Clearwire suppliers Motorola and Cisco. It’s a free download.

Paul describes:

  • How Clearwire’s emphasis on using microwave backhaul gives it a cost-savings and flexibility of deployment edge over traditional wireline systems
  • Why using an open-standards approach to infrastructure allows Clearwire to select “best of breed” suppliers and avoid monopoly lock-ins
  • How Clearwire’s spectrum portfolio gives it room for future bandwidth demands while keeping tower-site expenditures to a minimum
  • How Clearwire’s current network infrastructure decisions might lead to a more open environment for device and application development in the future

Kapustka reviews the nuts and bolts of the Clearwire operation and explains its competitive advantage over LTE and 3G rivals. There’s a lot of good information here.

Paul (like me), is something of a WiMAX fanboy. I think many people have inflated expectations of LTE. In the real world, I expect WiMAX will be faster than LTE due to Clear’s bandwidth advantage and the data-centric TDD approach using full 10 MHz channels. WiMAX will be cheaper, it can use unlicensed spectrum, simplified “flat” IP architecture and an “open” competitive vendor environment.

LTE can’t cost/effectively replace a billion DSL connections. WiMAX can. “Unlimited” 3G is capped at 5GB/month & costs $60. Clear service is unlimited – at half the cost. I won’t even mention beamforming and backwards compatibility of 100Mbps WiMAX 2.0.

Cellular-centric LTE has none of those advantages. I hope to be proven wrong.

IDC predicts the mobile Net will reach 1 billion devices by Q1 2011, gaining quickly on the 1.3 billion PCs accessing the Internet. Internet advertising, meanwhile, will total nearly $61 billion this year, slightly more than 10% of all ad spending across all media, and reach almost 15% by 2013 to $100 billion worldwide, predicts IDC.

I do wish that there were some consensus on interoperability between LTE Advanced and 802.16m. LTE developers don’t want to give WiMAX any edge with backwards compatibility of TDD, of course.

The cost of phone service will stop the globalization of the mobile web. Perhaps upstarts offering Mobile WiMAX with voice and video – and no legacy to protect – will offer the best shot at delivering a truly connected world.

Cellular providers are stuck with a Trillion dollar legacy business model.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 10:20 am .

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