Clearwire at 4G World today reported that the first results of its LTE-based 4G trials provided extremely high speeds. Using a full 20x20MHz frequency range, it reached 90Mbps for downloads and about 30Mbps for uploads. The conditions were ideal, with an empty network, but were "massively different" compared to 4G over WiMAX and higher than the estimated 70Mbps, Clearwire's chief commercial officer Mike Sievert said with Fierce in attendance.
The Phoenix-area dry runs were run on the same 2.5GHz airwaves as WiMAX but had about ten times as much speed as the current Clearwire network. In its best conditions, WiMAX in the US has managed about 10Mbps, with 3-6Mbps being more common.
LTE isn't a definite replacement for Clearwire's existing 4G network but is considered an upgrade path if it lags behind the competition. Verizon launches late this year and expects 12Mbps at most in typical use. Clearwire would have to undergo a significant cost but has already said that it could upgrade virtually all of its network to LTE with relatively little effort.
If not pressured by the industry, Clearwire could eventually upgrade to WiMAX 2, which is already topping 330Mbps in theoretical tests.
The current service is limited to modems, integrated notebooks and routers for Clearwire, but its partner Sprint has made a point of selling phones like the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G that all have WiMAX built-in.