Sunday 2 November 2008

Will there be a winner in LTE and WiMax debate?

In the past there have been so many developments within WiMax and LTE in terms of where the two technology stands. Which technology is on the rise or which will eventually be a 4G technology is a never ending discussion.

On a regular basis I do get to know that either the LTE or WiMax camp claiming victory over another.

In a recent WiMAX World conference in Chicago, some advocates were quick to claim a WiMAX victory in the 4G technology race. The mantra or refrain for most of the sessions was that WiMAX is here and it's paving the way for 4G.

In the past few months there has been significant development in WiMax camp coordinated with the launch of WiMax services. In September Sprint-Nextel's launched the commercial mobile WiMAX service (called Xohm) in Baltimore. This definitely helped the buzz for WiMax to reach a new high. But as always together with the excitement, lies some anxious moments as everybody is now watching Xohm's debut to see how it fares with consumers.

There is no doubt that plenty of stake is riding on Sprint's Xohm launch. Clearwire also has got its own anxious moments with this launch as it was in last May that Clearwire announced it would merge with Sprint Nextel's WiMAX business to create a new company, also called Clearwire. The deal, which is expected to close by year-end, includes a $3.2 billion investment from Google, Intel, Comcast, Time Warner and others.

Although the above scenario really present a competitive and rosy picture for WiMax but even one of mobile WiMAX's biggest fans, admits that it's unlikely that WiMAX (or any one technology for e.g. LTE) will win the 4G debate.

In my view and so as I believe most of the people expects that the wireless industry will always have at least two technologies, perhaps more. My view can be supported with the idea of most of the operators going for HSPA+ technology. With operators eager to generate more revenue with the ever increased data rate requirements together with the delay in LTE there is no choice but to go for HSPA+. Which in my view has always been the best way to move forward as I am always a big fan of HSPA+ till LTE arrives?

This means that there may be some operators that will evolve along the HSPA+ path and never opt to deploy 4G or a 4G-like technology.

If the situation were to develop like I mentioned above then I don't think it is going to be as black and white as one (technology) wins and one loses. A lot of people don't realize that the most of the successful wireless operator or one of the most successful wireless operators today uses a technology that is only used by 13 percent of subscribers around the world.

But that's not all, inspite of all these and hence the Future of 4G will includes several interactive panels with experts who will delve into all aspects of the 4G debate. I am sure that whenever there is debate between LTE and WiMax it starts with the WiMax camp pointing out that Mobile WiMAX is the first out of the gate. Ok I agree then people argue that LTE is often considered the more evolutionary technology. The question probably isn't whether they can co-exist, they have enough common elements that it's feasible, it's whether there are enough reasons for them too.

So many times in the past including me has got into the debate of whether WiMax and LTE should or will be merged together?

In my past blog I have championed the cause of LTE and WiMax working together.
But as always there are many experts whoc belive that they ae going to work together. One of them is Peter Jarich, the research director of Current Analysys who firmly believe that LTE and WiMax are not going to merge. I can see where Pter is coming from because most of these phrases of working together are mostly biased towards politics and just from a political standpoint of getting all the parties together it's just not going to happen.
As I said in my previous blog regarding LTE and WiMax harmonization the guys have to fight it out. Now that might be bad for the carriers but it's good for the vendors who supply weapons to both sides and it's always good for consumers who get more choice.

Once thing which is quite clear though is that the presence of a rapidly maturing WiMAX ecosystem certainly has had the effect of accelerating LTE well before all the revenue potential was drawn out of HSPA and EVDO. In the past year LTE has certainly gained momentum in standards development, carrier decisions and an LTE wireless ecosystem being created. After all these significant developments in LTE analysts have started to believe that there is no reason to slow it down by merging it with WiMAX. There is, however, a reason for speeding it up to compete with WiMAX.

I can make a pretty strong argument that LTE would be at least four years later if WiMAX were not pulling it forward. WiMAX also comes with its own strengths that could add some intrigue to the battle. It's an IP standard from its base up and performs better in TDD and less mobile environments. LTE performs better in FDD and a high-user count model. That means the two could be complementary-albeit competing.

Would it be better if we had one technology and not two?

Well the debate continues……

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"T-Mobile to skip HSPA+ and wants LTE by 2010"