Joanne Steinberg, Bridgewater Systems
29 Jun 2010
Many Wimax operators today are exploring the opportunities that LTE offers, either as a complementary technology or an alternative to Wimax. Three developments have compelled this reevaluation of 4G strategies.
First, the growing support for the TDD-version of LTE, TD-LTE, has created a more direct competitor to Wimax, which uses this spectrum. Interest in TD-LTE has spread with many mobile operators attracted by the opportunities for international roaming and cheaper spectrum. Second, vendors have introduced platforms that support multiple air interfaces through software upgrades, and plan to commercialize multimode devices. The lower cost and complexity of migrating to a new air interface makes it more attractive for Wimax operators to switch to LTE or to support both 4G technologies. Third, with a larger market size and commitment from tier-one mobile operators, a powerful LTE ecosystem is building, with a wider choice of devices and competitive equipment prices.
Wimax operators need to consider a number of factors when assessing their options. These include:
Services offered - LTE will be more attractive to Wimax operators that target mobile broadband subscribers, giving them access to a wider choice of mobile devices, and facilitating roaming.
Spectrum availability - Wimax operators have the flexibility to deploy LTE using TDD or frequency division duplexing (FDD) spectrum bands, while Wimax equipment is limited to TDD.
Growth - Wimax operators may decide to roll out LTE as a replacement for Wimax, or as a complementary technology that provides additional capacity and facilitates new services.