WiMax vs. Long Term Evolution: Let the battle begin

GSM carriers widely plan to back LTE, but WiMax will push competitors in the US

Spectrum properties and the physical layout of cell towers and base stations are ongoing concerns of the carriers. At AT&T, engineers are moving forward with LTE after carefully testing WiMax, which is "very good technology," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. "It appears to be very good for fixed mobility, such as a neighborhood or shopping mall, but it's not clear yet how it will perform over wide distances as people are mobile," he said.

Motorola, Intel and others demonstrated mobile WiMax at the CES and the CTIA conferences earlier this year in Las Vegas, driving cars through busy city streets to show connections to WiMax antennas installed for the tests. The WiMax handoff of signals from tower to tower worked the majority of times on two separate runs conducted, but failed at least once on each run. Last year, a boat on the Chicago River made smooth handoffs as it cruised along, allowing video streaming to laptops and handheld prototype devices.

Siegel said AT&T is convinced it can find cost efficiencies with LTE as an upgrade to GSM, allowing it to use its current infrastructure of 48,000 towers and related base station equipment nationally. "By comparison, WiMax has to start from ground zero," he said.

Sprint disputes that characterization, noting it has long held the 2.5 GHz spectrum being used for WiMax, among other basics, including the rights to use its existing cell towers.

The bottom line

For end users, the current debate over WiMax vs. LTE is largely theoretical but is nonetheless important. Technology investors are the most interested now, because billions of dollars being invested today will have clear implications for millions of users in, perhaps, three years.

Analysts see a clear dominance by LTE in a few years. Among other things, it could support global roaming for users of high-speed wireless devices, since so many carriers are bound to adopt it. However, that won't serve every user or every company, Redman noted.

"The bottom line is that one technology will not cover all the user needs for home, office, local or international services," Redman said. "It is still going to be a combination of technologies and developers. WiMax may be one of those, but LTE will predominate."

For users, technology competition should always be considered beneficial, noted Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates. "One thing is certain," he said. "The new Clearwire joint venture will spur the other guys to get their act together and get LTE out in the field."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?