Clearwire Takes Another Step Toward LTE While Investor Search Continues

Broadband provider Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) is working with a major Chinese company to encourage development of devices for a new fourth-generation wireless network, even as the Kirkland, WA company continues looking for investors to bankroll its expansion.

Clearwire is collaborating with China Mobile to develop common technical specifications for makers of networking gear and mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, that can run on a kind of 4G network technology called TD-LTE. LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution, a type of wireless technology that is quickly becoming the standard for next-generation networks. The company’s release didn’t specify any financial terms of the collaboration.

Clearwire initially built its 4G network on a different kind of technology, known as WiMax. It’s now having to make the switch to LTE, but needs money to do that—some $600 million, along with another $300 million or so to finish work on the WiMax side, the company has said.

There’s no news of investors who have come forward to underwrite those costs yet. Majority shareholder Sprint (NYSE: S) looks to be a key player in determining how Clearwire will be able to get financing for its new LTE network.

In the meantime, deals like the common standards arrangement with China Mobile can help grow the pipeline of devices that’ll be needed for an eventual network. Clearwire named a new CEO in August, tapping Erik Prusch to replace wireless industry pioneer John Stanton, who remains the company’s chairman.

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