US wholesale operator Clearwire confirmed that it intends deploying LTE technology alongside its existing WiMAX deployments, but noted that this rollout will be “subject to additional funding.” In a statement, John Saw, the company’s CTO, took a thinly veiled swipe at LightSquared, the planned LTE wholesale network operator which will now compete with Clearwire using the same technology. Saw noted that: “since we currently support millions of customers in the 2.5GHz band, we know that our LTE network won’t present harmful interference issues with GPS or other sensitive spectrum bands.” Clearwire intends using “LTE Advanced-ready” equipment to serve “densely populated urban areas of Clearwire’s existing 4G markets, where 4G usage demands are high.” However, the company also “restated its commitment to its existing 4G WiMAX network.” Clearwire’s decision to move to LTE is not totally unexpected: it has been trialling the technology for some time, and is also a founding member of the Global TDD LTE Initiative.
The company made its strategy announcement in line with its second quarter 2011 results, which saw it report a net loss of US$168.74 million, compared with a loss of US$125.92 million year-on-year, on revenue of US$322.61 million, up from US$117.03 million. The company ended the quarter with approximately 7.65 million total subscribers, up 365 percent from the 1.64 million reported for the second quarter of 2010. This base is split between 83 percent who are wholesale customers, and 17 percent who are retail. Clearwire said it expects to end 2011 with approximately 10 million subscribers, up from the 9.5 million had previously forecast, with “most of the new subscribers coming from its wholesale business.” It also anticipates generating positive EBITDA in early 2012, as a result of “continued implementation of aggressive cost efficiencies aimed at improving cash flow.” The period included a charge of US$376.4 million for “abandonment of network and other assets,” which comprised of fees related to aborted network deployments due to Clearwire’s modified future network plans – “including the company’s intent to implement LTE in high usage areas of its existing network.”