Friday 3 April 2009

Nokia favours LTE by dismissing WiMax

In the past few days the argument between WiMax and LTE camp has intensified. Both the camps are grabbing every single opportunity to pass disparaging remarks over the other. Evidently both WiMax and LTE are trying to be 4G bearer and in order to do so they are just pushing things to the limit.

It’s very well known that Nokia although has chosen LTE as their 4G technology, are still part of WiMax forum.

However what is astonishing is that Nokia has now strongly come out openly to dismiss WiMax as a 4G technology. This latest development will no doubt will generate some intensifying and interesting comments from both the camps.

Nokia by dismissing WiMAX as a 4G technology standard seemed to have solidified its support for Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology while comparing WiMAX's future to that of Betamax, the video format that met its demise when VHS triumphed in the 1970s and 1980s. In a recent Nokia launch event in San Francisco Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's head of sales and manufacturing said the following:
"I don't see that WiMAX is taking hold anywhere in a big way. I don't think the future is very promising for WiMAX. This is a classic example of industry standards clashing, and somebody comes out as the winner and somebody has to lose. Betamax was there for a long time, but VHS dominated the market. I see exactly the same thing happening here."

The words above are really strong as far as dismissing WiMax as a 4G technology is concerned.

Nokia has wavered in its support for WiMAX in the past, but this is by far the strongest condemnation the world's largest handset maker has made of the technology. Nokia quite rightly present WiMAX's lack of backwards compatibility as one of the reasons why they think LTE is the future and for that very reason call WiMAX a niche play.

However it still remains to be seen whether Nokia is completely abandoning WiMax as it is still involved in WiMAX business development efforts.

Albeit it is still an immense argument as what will be 4G. Clearly from the dominant mobility operator perspective the trend is towards LTE. Any technology that gets rolled out has to provide global backwards compatibility because networks don't appear overnight. The only technology that offers you backward compatibility to CDMA and TD-CDMA and wideband-CDMA is LTE. It makes a huge difference because you're not building greenfield networks; these are evolutions of existing networks and the user experience has to be maintained. From that perspective, WiMAX doesn't quite have the same capability.

I don’t want to sound too harsh on WiMax and I think there might be a place for WiMAX as a fourth generation niche technology but I believe over time, LTE will be the standard bearer for 4G globally. The (WiMAX) technology itself, there's nothing wrong with it; it's strong and it ultimately will work. The question is whether there will be a market.

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