on August 17, 2010  

Just last month, Intel disbanded its offices in Taiwan, scaring investors in Taiwan that the future of WiMAX might not be so stable. Intel told investors that it was just a “normal process that takes place as new technologies mature”, but not everyone was convinced. Taiwanese companies make approximately 80% of WiMAX devices; their investment in the technology is estimated to be upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars. The potential damage to Taiwan’s economy could be devastating.

Today, however, Azimuth Systems, a company that provides testing for wireless solutions such as WiMAX and LTE, announced that Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry has chosen to use the ACE™ MX MIMO channel emulator for the purposes of WiMAX testing. Azimuth publicized their press release earlier today with numerous statements about the quality of their products and services, but investors should see this for the good news that it is. Taiwan is continuing to work with WiMAX, even without the Intel local office. WiMAX technology is still flourishing in Taiwan.… Read the rest


on August 17, 2010   |   7 comments

    The Financial Times rolled out with an article yesterday telling Intel that investing so much money in WiMAX was a mistake. It goes on to support LTE technology over WiMAX and reported older news on the numerous companies that are either ending their agreements with WiMAX or running test trials with LTE. It’s old news with the same, wrong approach to the situation. Towards the end of the article, there is intelligence displayed in mentioning that WiMAX is unlikely to disappear completely. There is no reference to the fact that there are different versions of LTE and some of them shouldn’t even be comparable to WiMAX.

   TD-LTE, the latest standard of LTE, operates on TDD, or time division duplexing, the same way that WiMAX does. This would mean that they would share a bandwidth and spectrum. TDD is superior to LTE’s previous usage of FDD, or frequency division duplexing, because TDD uses unpaired spectrum channels and is able to split up work from uplink to downlink. This is much better for data because uplink/downlink rates [of action] are not fixed. FDD is better for mobile operators because uplink/downlink occurs on a paired spectrum channel and voice is symmetric in both directions.

   Many companies, like Alvarion, use both TD-LTE and WiMAX because they run on the same spectrum and are therefore interchangeable in a way that both can be used by the same device. It would mean better 4G access for all companies that are smart enough to be using both technologies. Infrax just announced today th first upgradeable WiMAX/LTE base station. They seem to be getting at what most markets are looking for; people want the best everything and now they can get the best of both worlds. 

   The Financial Times failed to even point out the significance of 4G for non-mobile services. Clearwire, a popular WiMAX provider, isn’t even focusing their advertising campaign on wireless phones, rather they are trying to take control of offering coverage for all internet services, home and mobile. Clear doesn’t plan on disassociating themselves from the technology they were founded on. Rather, if they can improve their services they will, unlike the LTE snobs like the ones at the Financial Times who refuse to see the benefits of the “competition”.Read the rest

Sobel Media Event

on August 16, 2010  

Several days ago, there was a Sobel Media Event at the Samsung Experience at Columbus Circle in the AOL- Time Warner building. It was a wonderful event, called “How Wireless and Mobile is Changing Everything”, and it was exclusive too, by invitation only. It is part of a new series called “The Future of Digital Media: NYC Edition” from SobelMedia. This event featured a panel discussion from three experts in the 3G and 4G fields: Ari Zoldan, CEO of Quantum Networks, LLC, Brian Reich, Managing Directoy of little m media, and Robert Raciti, CEO of Raciti Capital Advisors.

The event was hosted in the Samsung store on the third floor, and the first 45 minutes of the event was spent trying out Samsung products. It was great having the event in such a central, convenient location in New York City; it also works out that the store is beautiful and expansive, too, making it an accommodating place for the 75+ attendees.

Brian Reich acted as moderator through the first half of the discussion, directing questions at Ari Zoldan and Robert Raciti. They spoke appropriately without making any controversial statements. The majority of the discussion was devoted to discussing the future of our world with advances in technology. They spoke about how 4G will revolutionize the way we operate and process information.

Summarizing the main points, Mr. Zoldan said, “We are still in the infancy stage [of technology]… as speeds penetrate our technological arena in the development of applications and programs”. Another point that was brought up was the ‘universal right’ of internet access (as was most recently declared in Finland), says Mr. Zoldan, “Wireless access has become a commodity in several countries around the world. The need for faster speeds will be inevitable to support and accomplish innovation.”

Bill Sobel, from SobelMedia said of the event, “SobelMedia has been working with the Mayors Office of Media & Entertainment for the past 3 years on a variety of events. We were pleased to have Ari on the panel with Brian Reich of little m media and Robert Raciti of Raciti Capital Advisors.”… Read the rest


on August 12, 2010   |   5 comments

There is another player in the game of 4G networking that is going to be providing long-term evolution (LTE) technology, and they’re promising to bring more to the table. LightSquared, a new 4G wireless broadband network from Nokia Siemens, is undertaking a project that they claim will provide 4G service to 92% of the U.S. by the end of 2015.

LightSquared is a new company with a not-so-new concept. They are creating a new network to provide
LTE across the nation. This should sound familiar, because Clearwire already did it with WiMax. They differ, however, in their service projections. Clear, whose majority shareholder is Sprint, is selling Clear’s 4G service through dealers, but they’re patenting their name on all of their products. LightSquared, on the other hand, doesn’t plan on doing that. They are going to sell their bandwidth for other companies to market; any company can market and sell LightSquared service.

LightSquared has already signed on some of the best companies in their respective fields.
Siterra, a web-based software provider, will provide Siterra+ to manage the operation and maintenance of the new wireless network system. Marketwire, a top quality equipment manufacturer, has made a deal with LightSquared that will make them the sole marketers of smart grid applications and various utility markets on LightSquared’s spectrum.

The Federal Communications Center, aka the FCC, is really the only authority that could stop them, and they haven’t. In fact, they are welcoming them into the 4G playing field with open arms, readily giving them the 1.4 Ghz frequency. FCC Chair Julius Genachowski has given them his blessing, saying, “Today’s announcement shows that FCC policies are helping grow the U.S. economy by catalyzing investment and job creation.” Oh, don’t worry, he’s telling the truth. Investing $7 billion into a wireless network and providing as many as 100,000 jobs is something a government agency has the right to be proud of in this awful economy. Unfortunately, not many government agencies have this right. Telecommunications is one of the few growing fields in our current, unstable economy.

So, what exactly does LightSquared have planned? Well, by the end of the year they plan on launching their satellite into orbit. And there are an estimated 40,000 cell towers being put up in the next 5 years. Their 4G wireless network is going to be set up by next summer to be
Read the rest

clear is stupid fast

on August 6, 2010  

clear is stupid fastPerhaps the most important announcement from Clearwire on their earnings call yesterday (at least to those of us who covet speeds faster than a roadrunner on heroin) was the trumpeting of their upcoming bout of LTE trials. The trials are slated to go live in Phoenix in the fall of this year – which is INDEED right around the corner. This begs many questions from those of us who have some knowledge of wireless broadband, engineering principles and commercial deployment intangibles. Lucky for those of us nerds, as well as the crowd here, Dr. John Saw, the Chief Technology officer of Clearwire, was able to share a lot of knowledge in a press release just following the earnings call. Clearwire plans on offering LTE speeds in the real world range of 20-70 Mbps! That is much faster than the 5-12Mbps that Verizon Wireless has announced it will operate its LTE network. Not only will Clearwire offer a faster LTE network, it also plans to test the possibility of a dual WiMAX/LTE network for optimal end user performance, both on the receiving end as well as the backhaul. So what does this all mean? If you decide to read ahead, you will find out plenty about how it all works, and why Clearwire may well be poised to deliver some serious competition in the mobile broadband market.

How many bytes can we push here?
Remember the days of pulling out your cell phone antenna, standing on one foot and doing all but a dance and jig to potentially catch a cell phone signal from somewhere in the air? As any of us can remember, coverage was something not taken for granted, and the use of the mobile device was sweet indeed. Fast forward a decade or so and the two largest carriers hired their actors and producers to poke and prod at each other’s “maps” with one boasting the other was garbage and the other claiming the latter was a lying jerk. My point here is that those days – at least for a few seasons – are through:
“In a 4G world, wireless coverage is important, but capacity is KING. This capacity is a unique and sustainable advantage for Clearwire, thanks to our all-IP network and unmatched spectrum holdings.”
More on the spectrum holdings in a moment – but let’s talk about the capacity that they’ve been touting. I’m
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Bill Morrow

on August 5, 2010   |   3 comments

Bill Morrow
Clearwire waited until today to post their earnings and other statistics from the 2Q 2010. There were many highlights to the session, which lasted about an hour and came live with representatives from all of the major investment institutions. The earnings call offered some much needed insight into the direction of the company for the next 6 to 12 months, including information from Bill Morrow (CEO) Erik Prusch (CFO), and John Saw (CTO) on the much rumored LTE trials that Clearwire has been and plans to continue conducting. 

The Executives corralled in assorted investment bankers from Citi, UBS, Deutsche Bank and others to discuss the activity of Clearwire. Many of the announcements were along the lines that analysts predicted:

  • Posting a quarterly adjusted EBITDA loss of $363.2 million  
  • net loss of $125.9 million
  • revenues up almost 100% year over year of $123 Million.

In addition to the rigmarole typically accompanying an earnings call for shareholders, company executives took the time to discuss some bits and bytes that, until today had all been the speculation of fact and fiction. Clearwire formally announced the launching of the Boston, MA market “in a few short weeks.” They acknowledged the agreement with Best Buy, the first wholesale client who is not a strategic investor and also announced a similar agreement with Cbeyond, an Atlanta-based hosted VOIP provider for SMB organizations. .The gentleman also took the time to thank shareholders for their patience as they highlighted key metrics that were successfully attained in the company:

  • 2Q total net subscriber adds of 722,000, of which
  • 595,000 were WHOLESALE customers (from Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner, etc)
  • 2Q ending total subscribers of 1.7 million, up 231% YOY
  • Retail churn listed at 3.2% nationwide
  • POP penetration in maturing markets (Atlanta, Law Vegas and Portland) of 3.2%, up from 2.7% in 1Q 2010

The figures above are very impressive, measured against any standards. The Company has managed to, in the midst of a credit restricted economic climate, embrace the users desire for more choices and, more importantly, unlimited usage of a high bandwidth capacity (Clearwire users consume over 7GB a month – a multiple of the average 3G user of todays leading carriers). Not only have they signed up a record number of users under the CLEAR brand but they have assembled (officially) over 1 million wholesale subscribers. They “will continue Read the rest

on August 3, 2010   |   18 comments

The writing has been on the wall almost since its inception, with a trail of clues leading from Wall Street to Overland Park, KS all the way west to Kirkland, WA, the days of Clearwire operating its own network under its own board of directors and, most importantly, under its own symbol on the ticker may be drawing close to an abrupt and uneventful halt. Sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that Sprint Executives, most particularly Dan Hesse are disappointed at Clearwire’s Network Expansion and deployment as well as its overall strategy. Not a very desirable choice of words as Clearwire is due for another round of funding here by the end of the year.  It is expected that Sprint will use over $1 Billion in cash to provide for this round of aid and debt obligations – however, with a disappointing network Sprint could very well use its cash to simply buy out the remainder of Clearwire’s ownership in the company. Dan Hesse himself, in a recent earnings call with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citi Group and others is slow to add fuel to the speculative fire:

“I get a lot of questions about Clearwire and about Sprint’s network RFP. On the topic of Clearwire, we have an advantage in the aligned ownership interests we share with the cable partners, Intel and Google and we benefit from the many contributions they have brought to the table and we benefit from the resale of 4G services… As in the past, any strategic or funding decisions about Clearwire must be a collective decision among the strategic investors and the Clearwire Board. Beyond that, we are not going to comment on the ongoing media speculation.”

That’s CEO speak for “DROP IT, I’m not here to degrade Clearwire’s already poor stock position”. It makes no difference whether Clearwire decides to sell NOW or LATER, their position has been (from the beginning) to acquire as many customers as possible in an effort to be taken over by a carrier that doesn’t have its own spectrum (think Comcast OR of course Sprint). However the recent success in the new Clear markets should slow the speculation for now as Clearwire is on pace to hit corporate metrics and surpass 2 million customers by the close of business 2010.

 … Read the rest

Best Buy + Clearwire

on August 3, 2010  


Just weeks after Best Buy announced that they would resell the Sprint 3G network under the “Best Buy Connect” brand, the company has announced that they will add a 4G tier, or even possibly 4G included with their USB devices and forthcoming mobile hotspots. According to Jed Stillman, VP of Best Buy Connect:

“This agreement paves the way to providing one-stop shopping and support for mobile broadband as more people become more connected across all kinds of devices,”

The truth is that this agreement comes in lieu of two simple facts:

 ·         Best Buy Mobile is one of the most successful and disruptive forces in mobile phone retail

·         Best Buy has been a KEY POINT OF DISTRIBUTION for CLEAR WiMAX.

In fact, the former of the two bullets is what no one is talking about, but is THE MOST OBVIOUS REASON for Best Buys new found commitment to the Sprint/Clearwire network. In each and every market that Clear launches, Best Buy stores that (before CLEAR) are already successful retail locations ALSO happen to be the best retail stores for CLEAR sales.  All of the last year Clear has had their own corporate reps selling CLEAR WiMAX inside Best Buy to their customers – some Best Buy stores move anywhere between 250 and 300 CLEAR ACTIVATIONS A MONTH – ALL OF THEM TWO YEAR CONTRACTS!!! For any of you who know the revenue that Clear is paying (as I do) for these activations you know that CLEAR IS A CASH COW for best buy. Keep in mind that the COOL devices for Clear are just now starting to launch (MiFi’s etc). In essence, Best Buy smelled something cooking, and they ordered their own chef to whip up their own version of the same dish.

The news comes just in time for Clearwire, as they are teetering on the weight of their own debt, their own pressure, and ultimately their own deadlines. They have committed to having 140 million POPs covered time and again by the end of 2010, yet if you go to www.clear.com/imap they do not even have their TOP markets (New York, LA, San Fran, Miami, Denver, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati) listed as “future markets” which is most terrifically odd considering that those markets I listed would account for more than 35 million POPs by themselves. In addition, there is a growing Read the rest

wimax vs. lte

on August 2, 2010  

3G, implemented 4 years ago, has almost reached its saturation point, and thus the war among major U.S wireless carriers- Verizon, AT&T and Sprint- has begun. 2010 is a turning point in the telecommunication market and companies are trying to take over the 4th generation industry: 4G.
Consumers expect a high speed connection between 100Mb /s and 1Gb/s, contrary to 3G which does not exceed 14.4 Mb/s. Two technologies with this capability are in competition: WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and LTE (Long Term Evolution).

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies. LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communication in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite. The LTE solution is supported by AT&T and Verizon and should be implemented by the end of 2010. However, LTE still remains slower than Wimax and tests show that the infrastructure is not mature enough, and will need about 2 more years to be completely efficient.

The other technology called WiMAX, developed by Sprint and Clearwire is already available as a type of broad-base Wi-Fi. More than 450 tests are on-going to deliver high-speed connections to cell phones and landline devices in more than 135 countries like Kenya, Russia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, India, Denmark, Japan and the US. The Wimax advantages are threefold: it can be spread in remote areas such as emerging countries; the technology is operational and functions with any device integrated with a Wimax chip; and it solves roaming problems. Despite these advantages and the anticipation over 4G, Sprint and Clearwire are not leaders of the U.S wireless carriers market. Indeed, LTE has a better popularity rating than Wimax, and neither Sprint nor Clearwire has enough money to challenge Verizon and AT&T.

While US carriers wrestle with these options, one wonders if a marriage between the two technologies would be a better alternative. WiMAX, which is already available and updated, could be implemented initially, allowing time to improve the LTE infrastructure. Thus, consumers can experience the superior performance of LTE without losing connectivity in the mean time. Accordingly, it seems that WiMAX and LTE are more complementary than rivals.… Read the rest

Mobile WiMAX

on August 2, 2010  

These are exciting times for the world’s first wireless mobile broadband internet technology – Mobile WiMAX is rapidly gaining world-wide adoption with corresponding commercial rollouts: In recent news, Imagine acquires Clear’s Ireland operations, Reliance Infotel ltd. changes their mind and plans for Mobile WiMAX deployments in India, Clear plans several new markets inside the U.S. by the end of the year (with current standing of 21 states (50 cities)), Best Buy Connect in conjunction with Clear announces their official wholesale relationship to sell 4G Broadband Service in the U.S., and the WiMAX Forum announces WiMAX 16e Enhanced for further network optimizations. Moreover, the ITU ratified IEEE 802.16m is set to continue to advance this open-standard 4G Mobile Broadband Internet technology growth for the next several years to come.

In order to take advantage of the current proliferation of  WiMAX – ready PCs (netbooks, notebooks) available online and in the retail channels, as well as be ready to intercept the near term launch of a variety of WiMAX-ready slate tablets and smartphones, a green field WiMAX operator needs to diligently perform early technology assessment between a whole host of these WiMAX enabled retail PCs, dongles, and CPEs within their own Mobile WiMAX network infrastructure (BS, ASN, CSN, etc.). Once the WiMAX Forum PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) requirements for the AAA (Authentication, Authorization, Accounting) server are satisfied, the green field operator can begin a first pass over-the-air network entry verification with subsequent DL/UL (downlink/uplink) speed testing. This first level assessment should bring a baseline confidence to the operator prior to a full-scale IOT (inter-operability) testing/optimization of the green field WiMAX network.

Let us do a quick review of a typical WiMAX network architecture: Essentially, the MS (member station)/SS (subscriber station) is on one side, and the BS (base station), ASN (Access Service Network) Gateway, CSN (Connectivity Service Network:  HA(home agent), AAA, etc.) is on the other side. Please remember the following common interface terminologies: the air-interface between the MS to BS is termed R1, the interface between MS to CSN is  R2,  BS to ASN is R6, ASN to CSN is R3, ASN to another ASN is R4 and CSN to another operator’s CSN is R5.  Next, we provide a simplistic summary of the network entry and initialization process: Phase a) the MS scans the DL channel and synchronizes with the BS, Phase b) transmit parameters are obtained, Phase c)
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