3.5G providers need 4G technologies to counter WiMAX

30 Aug 2007
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Though the actual rollout of 4G technologies is a long ways away; the selection of which technologies to be used is not.Because of the head start by WiMAX, proponents of Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) are scrambling to catch up.The good news is that LTE and UMB will use the same air interface (OFDMA) as WiMAX.One benefit is that test companies have a head start in supporting LTE and UMB because of their WiMAX testing capabilities and experience.

It's not expected that the ITU will release an official definition of wireless 4G technology until the 2008/2009 timeframe, but there are already clear contenders of what those technologies should be:LTE, UMB and WiMAX.

'Companies are extremely uncomfortable talking about '4G' technologies, since the ITU has not defined 4G yet,' says Gemma Tedesco, In-Stat senior analyst.Thus, 4G technology roll-outs won't likely start until the 2010-2012 timeframe, not with the dominant worldwide technology currently being GSM/EDGE, and HSPA and EV-DO handsets not expected to become dominant until 2012.In-Stat's guess is that mobile operators will initially deploy 4G very slowly, relying on their EV-DO or HSPA networks to provide for more ubiquitous coverage.

Why the Rush‾

So, if ITU is not going to have an official definition of wireless 4G until 2008/2009, then what's the rush to get the technologies developed today‾It seems like the industry is getting the cart before the horse.In a sense, it is.That's because WiMAX is well along its development path.The underlying technology that will be used in mobile WiMAX applications is already being incorporated in fixed WiMAX applications.

And to mix metaphors, WiMAX is the 'dark horse' in this race of competing wireless technologies.

'It is generally accepted that, beyond the increasing deployment of important technology enhancements such as High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), both on the uplink and the downlink, significant, further 3G evolution is required if it is to continue to dominate the global cellular market,' according to Phil Windred of Aeroflex Test Solutions, Wireless Division.'3G will need to compete head-on with DSL in order to win the fixed/mobile substitution battle as well as compete with rapidly developing alternative technologies such as WiMAX for broadband wireless access and DVB-H for broadcast.'

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