Speaker Interview- Clearwire

CTO, Clearwire: “We want to be the capacity relief for the whole industry”

John Saw, CTO, of Clearwire is delivering the opening keynote on Day Two of the inaugural TD-LTE Summit, taking place on the 23rd-24th April 2013 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how TD-LTE will help the operator compete in the market and how it’s wholesale model gives it an advantage in the market.

Why do you think that TD-LTE will give you an advantage over other networks?

I think that the key thing to emphasise is that we’re adding LTE to our WiMAX network. Our network today covers 130 million people and we have 11 million customers on it – it’s not going to go away any time soon.

One of the advantages to adding LTE is that it puts us on the same standard platform as all the other carriers. And we want to be the Switzerland of mobile broadband where we can sell access capacity, because of our spectrum depth, and LTE allows us to do that, easier than all the other carriers, who also have LTE themselves. So that’s why we’re interested in adding LTE to our 4G services.

Why does your wholesale business model give you a competitive advantage?

I think it comes down to spectrum. Spectrum is what you need to grow your 4G usage. And we have 160MHz on average in the top 100 markets (in the US) and that gives us a compelling point of differentiation compared to other operators. We want to leverage that by using our spectrum to wholesale capacity to other operators because we know that there is a spectrum crunch out there and we want to be the capacity relief for the whole industry and that is what prompts the wholesale business model.

How are you making it easier for other operators to connect to you?

We have a couple of ways we can make it easy for other operators to connect to us. One way is invoke the standard space MOCN model, the Multi Operator Core Network model – it’s a well-defined TSS standard. It enables another operators EPC core to connect directly to our base stations. There’s a lot of IOT work, as you might imagine but it is a possibility for all the operators. For those operators that do not want to own any network assets we can allow then to connect directly to our own core network, and provide a full turnkey solution. There’s also a model where if you have an EPC core but down want to go through the hassles of full IOT with our eNodeBs, we can connect directly to your MME (Mobility Management Entity) in your core, so it will be a core-to-core handover. So different models are available for whichever way the operator wants to connect to us. The whole idea is that the experience for the handover, the capacity handoff, is seamless, and the customer experience is not compromised.

What is your biggest challenge with regard to LTE?

You see the usage climbing but I think that’s it’s a good problem to have. It’s like a hockey stick and we’re just at the beginning of it. I think my challenge is how fast can I keep up in terms of providing this capacity offload; how fast can we get devices out there; how fast can we get chipsets developed to support these devices. So I think that there is a window of opportunity for us, and it’s a race against time to attract as much of this traffic as possible.

What are you most excited about it terms of future developments?

The feature that we’re very excited about it carrier aggregation, primarily because it further allows us to leverage our spectrum depth and build even faster pipes. 4G performance is all about how fast your pipes are and carrier aggregation in LTE enables us to build even fatter pipes with speeds in excess of 160Mbps on a per sector basis, that’s a tremendous amount of speed.

What key applications do you think will fill that bandwidth?

It’s going to be continue to be streaming protocols, especially video. I think that video works so much better on a 4G network compared to 3G, and that’s going to be a major driver for capacity. As you put a more capable network out there, consumers are going to use even more of it; HD video, broadcast, and unicast video that we can offer to our customers. Eventually a full replication of your home video experience without speed bumps, without speed caps.

John Saw, CTO, of Clearwire is delivering the opening keynote on Day Two of the inaugural TD-LTE Summit, taking place on the 23rd-24th April 2013 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore. To find out the full speaker line up and topics to be addressed, download the brochure here

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