14 Dec 2010
The 4G marketing wars waged by US wireless carriers paint Wimax and LTE as competing technologies.
But in other regions of the globe, mobile operators are deploying Wimax and LTE as complementary technologies for specific applications and markets.
Although that peaceful coexistence is unlikely to play out stateside, Wimax may come to play a supporting role for operators whose choice of technology doesn't wholly define their market identity.
Verizon lit up its LTE network in 38 major metropolitan areas on Dec 5, and made its choice of LTE a major part of its branding and marketing message. In the Asia-Pacific region, mobile operators are planning to deploy Wimax and LTE side-by-side as part of a broader 4G strategy that emphasizes coverage and service than specific technologies.
"In the rest of the world, Wimax is much more of a niche technology … and therefore much less of a threat," said Richard Webb, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "Mobile operators are much more open to looking at ways they can [deploy] Wimax [rather than hold] back the threat of it, which is the attitude of Verizon Wireless and AT&T."
Wimax and LTE's divergent heritages and signaling technologies -- Wimax coming from the IEEE and LTE coming from 3GPP -- suits them for different uses, according to Mike Jude, program manager at Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan.
LTE handles data and roaming more efficiently and intricately because it was "designed from the start for very mobile technologies," Jude said. "It was essentially aimed at mobility. Wimax was essentially aimed at fixed communication and then it was modified to support mobile communications."