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Clearwire Says It Could Ditch WiMAX for LTE

WiMAX provider Clearwire Corp. is willing to ditch WiMAX in favor of that other 4G technology, LTE, if the market warrants it.

Clearwire has been set on a rather maverick-like path in the United States by becoming the only major operator to choose WiMAX for 4G wireless broadband. The reasons for doing so include time-to-market advantages: WiMAX has been commercialized for sometime, while LTE won’t be deployed until next year.

However, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said if LTE becomes the dominant 4G gear, handset and developer focus in the future, the company would be willing to convert to it to capitalize on economies of scale and gain other benefits, like roaming agreements.

The conversion would actually be fairly easy, considering that the two technologies share an 80-percent overlap in their DNA, as it were. Many infrastructure vendors have gear that supports both, as well.

And of course, the end user doesn’t care, as long as the broadband is there.

“We’re the only carrier that can do this,” he told Dow Jones Newswires. “We’ll do what’s right for the business. Whether it’s LTE, WiMAX, future technology X, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Clearwire said it remains committed to its ongoing WiMAX rollout for now, but it’s clear (no pun intended) that the company is hedging its bets as the 4G landscape continues to clarify and the time-to-market advantage begins to sunset as operators make plans for 2010 LTE launches.

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