Wimax-LTE convergence: one year on

Robert Syputa/ Maravedis
04 Mar 2010
Last January Maravedis predicted that the Wimax and LTE standards would eventually converge, driven by both the development of the two ecosystems and the preferences of operators. Much has since occurred to further convergence between the rapidly growing and evolving efforts.
Wimax has grown to over seven million subscribers worldwide over 400 deployments. Patent pools have been formed for Wimax and started for LTE. Early adopters of Wimax - including YOTA, Packet One, and Clearwire - have helped to precipitate interest in next-generation networks.
A number of industry alliances and supply relationships have developed that forge common interests between the two camps. These include Intel and Nokia; Ericsson and Sprint; the IEEE, 3GPP and other SSOs; and common proposals by Wimax and LTE vendors for IMT-Advanced.
The Wimax and LTE ecosystems have also become increasingly overlapped. Infrastructure equipment suppliers support both standards - and often 3G - on the same platform. First tier suppliers and ODMs produce 3G, Wimax, LTE and other network equipment, devices, modules and handsets. And a number of Wimax vendors are working on Wimax+LTE multiple-mode chips, and have already developed chips, dongles and handsets that support both 3G and Wimax.
On the network end, operators have expressed increased consideration for evolution and compatibility between networks. The migration of mobile networks toward IP multi-service platforms has meant that applications can run on networks regardless of underlying RAN technology, and the market has become driven increasingly by applications and content rather than control of radio network access.
The rapid development of 4G IP now benefits from the common framework of OFDMA, MIMO-AAS, test and measurement, RF and antenna components, backhaul, and networking technologies. Many suppliers within what can be misconstrued to be opposing camps have found it in their interests to develop for both. Ecosystem participants say that they do that primarily to seek new markets and serve current customers, not as a matter of choice between one and the other.
Specific examples show how overlapped ecosystems have become. For instance, Sequans, a pioneering supplier of Wimax SOCs, will supply USB dongles to China Mobile http://www.sequans.com/news/press_releases/2009/2009_12_03.php for their leading TD-LTE deployments.


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