Clearwire calls for one global mobile technology

Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:08pm EDT

* Says talking to others about common mobile tech

* Clearwire aims to cover 270 million of US population

By Sinead Carew

LAS VEGAS, March 24 (Reuters) - The head of Clearwire Corp CLWR.O said he envisions incompatible network technologies WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE) eventually converging to form a common standard for high-speed wireless services.

Chief Executive Bill Morrow made the comment when asked during his keynote session at the CTIA show about his company's choice of WiMax, which is expected to have a smaller following among carriers than LTE, which the top two U.S. operators are embracing as a fourth generation wireless technology.

Morrow told the annual U.S. wireless show that he had talked with some of the world's top telecom and technology companies about how this could be achieved, citing discussions with China Mobile Ltd (0941.HK), Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) and Clearwire investor Intel Corp (INTC.O).

The executive said that the industry should focus on the similarities between WiMax and LTE rather than the differences in order to bring the technologies together.

"With this overlap, shouldn't we all be thinking how can we bring it together?" he said.

The executive said his network could be made to support both WiMax and LTE.

"We're not going to fight a war. We're going to provide our customers just what they want. Our spectrum is designed and built so we can add on LTE should we need to," he said.

Clearwire, which is 56 percent owned by Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N), is building a WiMax network and expects to cover 120 million people in the U.S. with the service by the end of this year. The day before, Sprint announced its first phone for the network, which already operates in 27 U.S. markets.

Morrow said that the speed at which Clearwire expands the network beyond coverage for 120 million people could depend on the company's success in raising more funding. Late last year it raised enough financing for this year's network expansion.

"Our objective is to cover 270 million of the population in the United States with our service," Morrow said.

Bigger rival T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE), said last week that it was talking to Clearwire about a potential joint venture under which T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. mobile service, could share Clearwire's wireless airwaves.

Besides Sprint and Intel, Clearwire's other investors include Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N) and Google Inc (GOOG.O).

The biggest U.S. mobile service -- Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) -- is building a network based on LTE and expects to have coverage for 100 million people by year-end. The second-biggest mobile provider here, AT&T Inc (T.N), also plans to build an LTE network. (Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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