Clearwire to Test LTE

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The Dude: Also, my rug was stolen.
Younger Cop: The rug was in the car?
The Dude: No. It was here.
Younger Cop: Oh, separate incidents.
The Big Lebowski

Clearwire today announced plans to conduct 4G LTE technology trials and to test multiple coexistence scenarios between LTE and WiMAX radios.

The tests will be conducted in the fall and throughout early 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. They are designed to showcase the capability of Clearwire’s spectrum holdings and examine a variety of potential future technology combinations, said the company.

Clearwire plans to conduct the tests in collaboration with Huawei Technologies, the same infrastructure provider which deployed the world’s first commercial LTE network in Europe, using the same 2.6 GHz spectrum band and flexible base station platform that Clearwire utilizes in the United States. Huawei’ s SingleRAN@Broad solution also enables CDMA operators to smoothly evolve to LTE.

Clearwire will also be testing on Samsung’s LTE/WiMAX common base station platform which it currently uses for its mobile WiMAX deployments.

The next generation U-RAS Flexible base station can be used as a common platform for Mobile WiMAX (802.16e), Mobile WiMAX 2 (802.16m), as well as both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE deployments.

Samsung’s Evolved Node B (right) contain the radios that communicate directly with mobile handsets. In contrast with GSM base stations, Node B uses WCDMA/TD-SCDMA as the air interface. It can be implemented with just one frequency pair.

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.

Conspicuous by its absence was Motorola, whose end-to-end TD-LTE network solutions include basestations, subscriber devices, eNodeB, backhaul, evolved packet core (EPC), billing and multiple vendor agreements. Clear uses Motorola WiMAX gear extensively. But Carl Icahn appears to be calling the shots at Moto, now.

Motorola last month agreed to sell most of its network-equipment business to Nokia Siemens Networks for $1.2 billion. The Nokia Siemens Flexi Multiradio base stations and its NetAct management system (pdf) would seem similar to Motorola’s LTE offerings. Nokia Siemens is the world’s second-largest maker of cellular gear, behind Ericsson and roughly even with Huawei.

A number of large wireless operators are expected to participate with Clearwire on the LTE tests. The carriers and other participating vendors for Clearwire’s technical trials are expected to be named at a later date.

“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 Dr. John Saw, Clearwire’s chief technology officer.

The test Scenarios include:

  • FDD LTE: Clearwire intends to conduct FDD LTE (Frequency Division Duplex) tests using 40 MHz of spectrum, paired in 20 MHz contiguous channels, of its 2.5 GHz spectrum. Clearwire expects to confirm the capability to produce real-world download speeds that range from 20-70 Mbps. This is expected to be significantly faster than the 5-12 Mbps speeds currently envisioned by other LTE deployments in the U.S., which will rely on smaller pairs of 10 Mhz channels or less.
  • TDD LTE: Clearwire will concurrently test TDD LTE (Time Division Duplex), in a 20 MHz configuration, which is twice the channel size currently used in its 4G WiMAX deployments.
  • WiMAX and LTE: Clearwire will also test 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.

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.

Additional details about the new technology tests were not disclosed.

Verizon Wireless says it expects to commercially launch its LTE 4G network in up to 30 markets in 2010, covering 100 million people with full nationwide coverage in 2013. The company successfully completed its first Long Term Evolution (LTE) data call in Boston, in August, 2009, using 3GPP Release 8. The company also completed an LTE 4G data call in Seattle. Verizon says its LTE network will deliver speeds between 5 Mbps and 12 Mbps. Verizon’s plans LTE dongles on their 700 MHz band next year.

Telenor, Norway’s largest mobile operator with 2.98 million subscribers and a 55 percent market share, announced in November that it will replace its entire mobile infrastructure in its home market of Norway, with Huawei and Starent gear for its LTE network.

The first full commercial Long Term Evolution service was launched in December 2009, by Swedish cellular operator TeliaSonera. The carrier plans to expand 4G coverage to 25 cities in Sweden and four in Norway by the end of 2010. TeliaSonera awarded LTE infrastructure contracts to Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks after an initial contract with Huawei.

TeliaSonera uses 20 MHz wide LTE channels, twice the bandwidth of Verizon’s 700MHz system, and has three nation wide 4G/LTE licenses; in Sweden, Norway and Finland. TeliaSonera’s LTE service will cover around 400,000 people in the centres of Stockholm and Oslo. It will first introduce the services in the largest cities in Sweden and Norway, followed by sites in Finland, where it recently received an LTE licence. TeleSonera plans a Danish rollout early in 2010. TeliaSonera uses an LTE modem from Samsung for its networks in Stockholm and Oslo.

TeliaSonera’s LTE network began commercial operation in Stockholm and Oslo in December 2009.

Clearwire began commercial Mobile WiMAX operations in Baltimore Maryland, in October 2007.

LTE is more complex than WiMAX. It is designed to be backwards compatible with cellular voice services.

WiMAX was designed to be simple, fast, and inexpensive. It’s a flat IP network, similar to WiFi or Ethernet. More plug and play.

The 2.6 GHz band, which runs from 2.5GHz to 2.69GHz, was allocated worldwide for mobile communications in 2000. GSMA says the “Flexible” option, as a practical matter, may cause interference problems with adjoining carriers using different systems.

Instead, the method gaining popularity is to split the 2.6 GHz spectrum into separate chunks for paired frequencies (preferred by mobile phone operators), and unpaired frequencies (preferred by WiMAX operators). Then, four different LTE carriers could bid on the FDD spectrum in one region, in blocks of 10 MHz or 20 MHz. The middle portion of the band, with some 50MHz dedicated to TDD-based WiMAX, is bid separately. This approach has been the preferred option by many national telephone governing boards, because it encourages competition between LTE and WiMAX carriers.

Recently, the TD-LTE flavor is gaining favor, with support from China and India. Now it appears that carriers have the opportunity to control nearly all the 2.6 GHz spectrum. The main benefit is more roaming compatibility between paired LTE (for voice) and unpaired LTE (for broadband data). Cellular operators may also eliminate the independents who would threaten their business model.

But the 2.6 GHz spectrum is not going up for auction in the United States. That’s because Craig McCaw already bought most of it.

Clearwire said Q2 2010 retail customer count now totals 940,000 with another 752,000 wholesale customers, for a total customer base of 1.7 million subscribers.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiMAX in More Cities, LTE Plans Leaked, Sprint Nextel: LTE/WiMAX Double Header?, Denmark Getting LTE, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, 4G Auction in UK by 2011, Yota Dumps WiMAX, TD-LTE Gains Momentum, German 4G Auction: It’s Done, Clear: No Limits, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, Sprint’s WiMAX Phone Launched, SK Telecom Buys 25% of Packet One, Compare “4G” Carriers in the U.S., LTE for Sprint? and MIMO: The Paper War

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 1:32 pm .

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