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Clearwire To Kick Tires On LTE

Clearwire, which has built a wireless broadband network available to 56 million people in the U.S. based on WiMax 4G technology, plans to conduct trials of the more-advanced Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband technology.

Clearwire -- whose investors include Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks -- said with LTE it could deliver 20 to 70 Megabits per second, as much as 10 times faster than the average downlink speeds for its current network WiMax.

The Kirkland, Wash.-based company made in the announcement as it reported results for the second quarter. Clearwire had 1.7 million total subscribers as of June 30, up more than threefold from 511,000 a year ago. The current subscriber mix comprises 940,000 retail subscribers and 752,000 wholesale subscribers signed up through Sprint, Comcast and TWC.

Clearwire now expects to have approximately 3 million total subscribers by the end of 2010, whereas it previously anticipated hitting just over 2 million.

"The pent-up wave of demand for mobile broadband service is evident, and Clearwire is riding our expanding 4G network and growing wholesale distribution model towards a promising second half of 2010," Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said in a statement.

Revenue for the second quarter was $122.5 million, up 93% increase over the second quarter 2009 revenue, while its operating loss more than doubled to $520.8 million versus $241.4 million in the same period last year.

As of June 30, Clearwire's existing WiMax network was available in areas of the U.S. where approximately 56 million people live. The company expects to cover up to 120 million people with its 4G network by the end of 2010.

The LTE trials will be designed to test "multiple coexistence scenarios" between LTE and WiMax radio technologies, according to Clearwire. The tests will be conducted in the fall of 2010 and throughout early 2011 in Phoenix.

Cox Communications, which isn't a Clearwire investor, has tested voice calling and HD video streaming over LTE networks in Phoenix and San Diego.

Clearwire expects to conduct tests across three key areas: Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) LTE, using 40 MHz of spectrum, paired in 20 MHz contiguous channels, of its 2.5 GHz spectrum; Time Division Duplex (TDD) LTE, in a 20 MHz configuration, which is twice the channel size currently used in its 4G WiMax deployments; and WiMax co-existence with both FDD LTE and TDD LTE to simultaneously support a range of devices.

The operator plans to conduct the tests in collaboration with Huawei Technologies, using the same spectrum band and base station platform that Clearwire uses in the U.S. for WiMax. Clearwire also will test LTE on Samsung Electronics' common base station platform which it currently uses for its mobile WiMax deployments.

"As we have consistently stated, we remain technology agnostic, but WiMax provides us with unique advantages to meet the needs of our customers today," Clearwire chief technology officer John Saw said.

Also on Wednesday Clearwire announced a deal with Cbeyond, a provider of voice, broadband, mobile and IT applications to more than 52,000 small businesses, to offer bundled 4G mobile Internet services to small businesses starting in early 2011. Last week Clearwire announced a reseller agreement with Best Buy under which the Minneapolis-based retailer will offer 4G network services through its Best Buy Connect LLC subsidiary beginning in 2011.

In addition, Clearwire launched the iSpot, a mobile hotspot that provides unlimited broadband access for Apple's mobile devices -- including the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone -- for $25 per month.