Sridhar T. Pai
02 Sep 2010
The infrastructure available from all leading Wimax vendors in 2010 is already upgradable to LTE, but devices were considered to be tied to either Wimax or LTE. So at this point an operator may have a few million Wimax devices that would be expensive to replace just in order to upgrade the network to LTE. But devices powered by the Beceem chips will not have this problem.
If an operator switches off its Wimax network in favor of LTE, BCSi500 based devices will be able to connect to the LTE network as if nothing happened. In the interim they can roam seamlessly between parts of the network that are still using Wimax and parts of the network that are already upgraded to LTE. Now this allows the BWA operators to have their cake and eat it to, meaning they can benefit from the immediate availability of low-cost and high-performance 4G Wimax solutions while maintaining the option of upgrading to 4G-LTE at the time when it is ready and affordable, and comes with a large number of devices and phones.
Sounds like an irresistible sweet spot? Yes. Too good to be true? May be, time will tell. Radio network engineering, many believe is a ‘science’ that borders on ‘art’. Irrespective of vendor claims, network enhancement is seldom seamless especially over multiple radio technologies. Will infrastructure vendors guarantee ‘software upgrades’ to 802.16e infrastructure to LTE? If it is not ‘seamless’ then who would bear the costs and how high would it be?
The average Indian consumer clearly doesn’t care whether his device will be Wimax or TD-LTE, but he most certainly cares about his total cost of service – device included - and what broadband experience can he be assured of. And the BWA operator needs to know that he is not being tied down to a single technology, that he has the ability to pick the best from both Wimax and LTE in order to maximize his return on the premium he paid for the tech-neutral BWA spectrum.
By thinking ahead of the curve, Beceem has made life simpler for BWA operators and has stolen a march over competition. Only devices built on such Wimax/LTE integrated combo Silicon will allow the rickshaw driver in Kolkata to seamlessly drive through winding roads not missing a single wicket of the Indian cricket match today. And tomorrow, when his operator switches channels to LTE, his game isn’t over...
Sridhar T. Pai, ceo and founder of Tonse Telecom covers wireless markets from Bangalore.