Originally published: October 12, 2011
Last updated: October 12, 2011 - 6:40pm
One of the reasons Sprint has been publicly posturing is its unhappiness with the Clearwire with which it’s forced to contend today. And it doesn’t seem to have the power to change Clearwire’s direction.
WiMAX as a mobile broadband technology is in its death throes. Clearwire’s time-division-LTE technology plans are an improvement since they do conform to a growing global standard, but Sprint still would face the daunting prospect of building a global TD-LTE ecosystem with foreign operators. Sprint tried to do that WiMAX and has probably had enough of such antics. Finally, Clearwire’s national WiMAX expansion stalled early this year -- stalling Sprint’s 4G launch with it -- and it has no plans to resume it until it gets more cash. Here’s what Sprint would likely do differently if it took control. It would first scarp Clearwire’s TD-LTE strategy. That plan works for Clearwire because it already has time division duplexing (TDD) networks in place which it could re-use for TD-LTE. Sprint, however, would move the LTE onto its own Network Vision architecture, which would allow it to adopt the frequency division duplexing (FDD) LTE configuration common in the industry and near universal in North America. Doing FD-LTE isn’t the most efficient use of that spectrum as 2.5 GHZ was never designed with separate uplink and downlink channels. Sprint would have to create those channels artificially by designated ad hoc ‘guard bands’ between them. It would lose a few megahertz here or there, but Sprint would have so much spectrum to play with I doubt it cares.
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