Clearwire Adopts LTE, Not Ditching WiMax Just Yet

Wow. Clearwire has just dropped a bit of a bombshell today, so I’ll spare you my usual theatrics: the operators of the nation’s first 4G network, having sensed the momentum that its LTE rival is gaining, has announced that they will add “LTE Advanced-ready” technology to its previously WiMax-only 4G service.

Of course Clearwire is quick to reassert their commitment to their existing WiMax network (and customers), but with Clearwire CTO Dr. John Saw referring to their execution of LTE as the “future of mobile broadband”, one can certainly smell the change in the air.

Their LTE rollout is supposed to center around major urban areas in their existing WiMax markets, in an effort to meet high demand for 4G service.

Don’t expect their LTE offerings to go live any time soon, though: they’re still waiting on some much-need funding before their implementation plans come to fruition. Hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later — with LTE Advanced potentially offering “peak download mobile speeds of at least 100 Mbps”, it should be able to satiate even the hungriest of data fiends whenever it lights up.

It’s definitely a big (and potentially very gainful) leap for Clearwire. They and partner company Sprint stand to pick up quite a bit of market share by offering more competitive 4G performance, all while flying under the banner of “the nation’s first 4G network.” The fact that the same 4G branding will continue for the foreseeable future actually strikes at the heart of a deeper question: does it really matter if LTE is better than WiMax? Most customers, as much as I love them, will see 4G and decline to press the issue any further; the rest of us network nerds will continue to argue about real v. advertised data speeds, while Mr. Joe On-the-go will benefit all the same.