LTE set to spank WiMAX
5X 4G in 5 years
The battle between LTE and WiMAX is tilting heavily in LTE's favor, with spending on that 4G mobile-broadband technology projected to be nearly five times that of its Intel-championed competitor by 2014.
By contrast, Juniper lowered its forecast of WiMAX revenues to $15bn (£9.3bn) in the same period, down from their 2008 prognosis of $20bn (£12.4bn) by 2013.
North America, Western Europe, the Far East, and China will account for 90 per cent of the LTE market by 2014, with the same areas providing 70 per cent of the WiMAX market in the same time frame.
WiMAX will carve out $4bn (£2.5bn) in business in Africa, the Middle East, South America, India, and Eastern Europe, according to the report, which opines that "WiMAX has role to play in providing broadband in developing countries where there is no wired network."
The author of both reports, Howard Wilcox, says that "We're on the cusp of make or break time for WiMAX." Here at The Reg, we're putting our money on "break" over "make."
At this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, strong support for LTE was announced by Alcatel-Lucent, US mobile leader Verizon, and others, forcing WiMAX provider Clearwire to issue a "please don't forget about us" statement saying that "Clearly, having more operators espousing the benefits of 4G can only serve to increase consumer awareness and demand for better services."
WiMAX may be down, but it's not out - although you are to be forgiven if you mentally add "yet" to that conclusion. Sprint, for one, is not going down without a fight. That US telecom-services provider plans to offer WiMAX coverage to over 22 million potential US customers by the end of 2010.
The key word there is "potential." With both AT&T and Verizon committed to LTE, competition for 4G hearts, minds, and wallets is certain to be fierce. And with figures like $70bn and $15bn being bandied about by Juniper, there's plenty of money to be made - and lost - in the mobile-broadband dust up.
And some of that money will be made by Juniper Research. If you have a spare £1,750 ($2,825) lying around, for example, you can pick up your own copy of the LTE report. If that's too pricey for you, you can settle for the WiMAX report - it's a steal at a mere £990 ($1,600).
Perhaps Juniper's pricing structure is indicative of the relative positions of the two competing 4G technologies. ®
Good Luck, WiMax!
Vendors will typically develop for the larger ecosystem. Customers of WiMax operators will face the same lack of choice and higher price with handsets/devices that customers of CDMA operators currently have. Most of these CDMA operators are switching to LTE. New WiMax operators haven't experienced this issue yet (but will) and Sprint is simply making the wrong network choice.
Competition is good. But competition between standards isn't. Good luck to the WiMax backers; they're going to need it.
(Paris: just 'cause)
Not the only place...
<<City of Oulu started to build a wireless MobileWiMAX network with several corporate partners in 2008. Building and investing were started as a EU funded panOULU district project. The steering group decided to discontinue the efforts in building the MobileWiMAX network in its session in 2009-02-27. Read more (in Finnish)>>.
This in Nokia's "Home Town". Sodding hell. Buggers this...( I used to train network operators globally on this seriously magic device)
@Mike: Yes and no
In fact both WiMax and LTE are becoming available at the moment. WiMax has the edge when it comes to handsets but LTE deployments are starting in Europe.
You're right to point out that there isn't that much of a battle but that's because the two technologies are actually very similar. While WiMax has the advantage of already being available in some parts of the US, uptake is going to be very slow. LTE has the advantage of allowing more reuse of existing infrastructure. And, with networks increasingly contracting out network management to suppliers, rollout should happen quite quickly. LTE also has the considerable advantage of coming out of the major networks talking shop: they've been able to ask for what they want.
As for which "brand" will succeed over time, well the market will decide that. But it's unlikely to be on technical merits. The argument that competing technologies will deliver the best product at the best price doesn't really hold water. It gave us the VHS cassette and the ISA bus. Given the costs of the R&D and deployment it is also too risky to try out which is why wireless technologies are converging. Sprint/Nextel didn't drop IDEN for technological but economic reasons. And GSM's predominance was also down to economic reasons. Initially GSM was totally unimportant in the US but GSM/UMTS is now the dominant technology in the US.
The networks will accept anything that can be put on a single chip. Intel's undoubted engineering prowess should help adopters there but seeing as there are very, very few handsets with Intel radios that is a handicap at the moment but if Intel can convince manufacturers to use it's systems that could change very quickly. UMTS showed that the demand for the highest possible data speeds was not that great: very few people were prepared to buy new devices and pay premium tarriffs. Only when prices dropped significantly did use take off. Ironically the notional competition from the technically inferior WiFi was important in setting price expectations. Those same expectations are there as the various HSPA upgrades and LTE are rolled out.
So as the article points out: WiMax is likely to be more interesting for places without much existing wireless data coverage. But for established markets it does look very much like the barrier to entry is too high and the window of opporunity too small. This is reflected in the very poor take up of WiMax licences in the countries that tried to auction them.