Prusch explained that Clearwire will initially roll out just 5,000 4G LTE sites, but that it will activate an additional 3,000 sites shortly after the first batch are activated. Unlike AT&T or Verizon Wireless, however, Clearwire is initially just deploying “sites” and not activating its 4G LTE network in entire markets. While Clearwire’s 4G LTE network won’t quite blanket the U.S., it will be deployed in hot zones where the speeds are most needed. “The idea is those LTE cells will provide capacity backup to its wholesale customers’ existing LTE networks as well as its own WiMAX footprint,” GigaOm explained. Sprint may be one of those wholesale customers that come knocking.
Sprint initially announced it was moving ahead with its 4G LTE deployment without the partnership of Clearwire, since had a contract to roll out its 4G LTE network with LightSquared, and that it would turn to Clearwire to help supplement its bandwidth in high-traffic areas if need be. However, the FCC recently put the brakes on LightSquared’s LTE deployment after allegations that it interferes with GPS networks.
While Sprint will count on Clearwire to help supplement its bandwidth, the company isn’t expected to consolidate the provider’s LTE service with its own. The two companies use varying LTE technologies, which means Sprint will need to make specific devices capable of running on both networks before consumers see any benefit.