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Feb 2, 2010

Will LTE kill WiMAX?

4th generation
Today I found an article in the Spectrum Magazine about a fight that already started some years ago, WiMAX versus LTE. The article I am speaking about is 4G in the U.S.A..

When I visited the Research Qualcomm Quarters in San Diego in 2008 I asked about their opinion on the future evolution of the WiMAX market. Qualcomm's (and most of cellular operators) opinion was that Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology was going to kill WiMAX before it was born. In fact, most of the presentations I attended during my stay in San Diego covered different aspects of the development of the LTE standard.

Two years after that an article appears in the Spectrum describing the early sucesses of WiMAX in the United States, mostly in the "last mile" broadband connection. Moreover WiMAX has spreaded all over to world allowing small providers to offer cost-effective (and even free) internet access. An example of this is my hometown, Vilanova de Arousa (Spain) that provides to all inhabitants, even on a beach, free internet through a mixed Wifi/WiMAX network (conect@vilanova).

With this in mind it is surprising that this article still predicts LTE taking the lead. The main reasons for that, they say, are the huge base of existing mobile customers and the support by the cellular lobby. However WiMAX has (at least) three years advantage over LTE, and last decade showed us how market can change in just a couple of years. In my opinion the time until world’s mobile operators begin to upgrade to LTE will determine the fight, and the result may change due to small factors, as it could be the creation of a mobile device taking all the advantages of WiMAX.

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