The big wireless carriers are all talking about the importance of network speed, with T-Mobile even rolling out a motorcycle-riding Carly to prove its point. But does Clearwire have the chance to blow past its much bigger rivals?

That’s the word from CTO John Saw who recently told GigaOm that the company’s upcoming LTE network could reach top speeds of 168 Mbps.

Say what? That’s well beyond what’s currently available, with Root Metrics last week releasing a report showing that some of the biggest carriers rarely come close to that sort of speed. (It found that some carriers don’t even routinely deliver more than 3 Mbps)

GigaOm reports:

Clearwire may not have the most ideal spectrum in the world for a nationwide launch – its higher frequency 2.5 GHz airwaves don’t propagate as far as the low-frequency licenses everyone else owns – but it is certainly blessed with a lot of it. Consequently, Clearwire can string those frequencies together to build some enormously fat pipes, Saw said. Saw said Clearwire plans to use the LTE-Advanced technique know as carrier aggregation to deploy an LTE pipe — which in wireless speak is called a carrier — 40 MHz in width.

Now, that might sound great. But there’s one problem that always seems to nag Clearwire. The Bellevue company is still struggling from a cash standpoint, and Saw said the new advanced LTE network would not be available until 2014.

Clearwire has said that it has enough cash to last until March 2013, at which point it may have to raise more money. The stock is down more than three percent today, having lost nearly 70 percent of its value in the past 12 months.

So, the big question is: Even if the technology blows past its rivals, can Clearwire last that long?

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