Sunday 23 November 2008

Delay in LTE can be blessing in disguise

Most of us know by now that Sprint and Clearwire is going to combine shortly to create a company which will trade into WiMax feverishly. The idea is that the joint company which will be called as Clearwire would foster competition in the mobile broadband arena and accelerate build out or deployment of advanced technologies such as WiMax. These are the kind of developments that keep LTE camp nervous but at the same time provide them some motivation as well.

With the merger it is anticipated that company's WiMAX network, to reach 140 million potential customers by 2010. It not a coincidence that Sprint chose WiMax as a 4G standard as it is available now and our customers want 4G now.

The company Clearwire says that it has deployed WiMAX in Baltimore and plans to deploy it in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., pending the close of the deal. This development together with some other factors gives enough confidence to WiMax supporters that the technology would minimize the market penetration of LTE simply because WiMAX is coming to market first.

Everybody will agree with me that WiMax is definitely in a very good position and it is WiMax’s battle to loose as far as battle of 4G is concerned.

On that other hand I am learning that network operators are just now beginning to see a return on their 3G networks. This gives the operators some encouragement to say they won't be ready to upgrade to an OFDM-based technology until about the time LTE is ready and why should they if they are able to generate handsome revenues with the existing 3G technologies.
On the other hand this delay in deployment of OFDMA based technologies by operators does gives mobile WiMAX time-to-market advantage over LTE by at least two years.

The fact that LTE won't be ready for another two to three years may actually turn out to be a boon for LTE as the time frame will allow mobile operators to get as much life as possible out of their existing 3G networks. Incremental upgrades to enhanced 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev B will allow for almost the same data rates as the initial LTE deployments, which will effectively set the stage for large-scale LTE commercial rollouts in three to four years.
LTE has a further advantage because the majority of cellular operators around the world will choose LTE as their migration path given the fact that 3GPP has tabbed LTE as the next-generation standard for the GSM community.
It is certainly a truth that WiMAX is a very robust technology that has been quite successful in many parts of the world as a fixed broadband solution and will continue to do so, especially in under-served markets. Although mobile WiMAX networks are already going live thanks to Sprint/Clearwire and Korea Telecom, the prospect of additional mobile WiMAX networks from Tier 1 operators is looking pretty grim.

Lets see how hard the WiMax camp will fight and how shrewdly the LTE camp will play the game.

1 comment:

Catalin said...

WiMAX = 3.5Ghz, LTE is "the new 3g" :) I guess that from the operator point of view the LTE will be the 4G winner. As Arun Sarin said this year at 3GSM.