Apparently there is no tiring of the old “WiMAX vs. LTE” debate. As I continue to read stories suggesting that WiMAX development is stalling in the face of LTE, I’m reminded of the arguments Motorola has made again and again that the two wireless standards will coexist. Most recently, Motorola’s Bruce Brda made the case that WiMAX has a strong future in his keynote speech at 4G World. Since I didn’t cover that speech in depth at the time, here are some of the key points Mr. Brda made.
- To “kill” WiMAX, LTE would need to launch much faster than expected (timelines range from 2010 to 2013) with both fixed and mobile capabilities. It would also have to prove compelling enough to get millions of people with existing WiMAX devices to make the switch. And the ecosystem of WiMAX devices is still growing. The WiMAX Forum has more than 500 members worldwide, including Motorola, and Motorola alone has already shipped more than one million WiMAX CPE devices.
- For WiMAX and LTE to converge, as some people advocate, the industry would have to overcome not only technical hurdles, but organizational ones as well. WiMAX is governed by IEEE, while LTE is governed by 3GPP. The two governing bodies have very different histories and operate on very different foundations.
- The co-existence of WiMAX and LTE has one significant benefit. In a word: competition. In fact, WiMAX has already sped up development of LTE both because of common technological elements, and because there is market pressure for carriers to have a solution that competes with WiMAX. Competition breeds speed and innovation. Those are good incentives for keeping both WiMAX and LTE going strong.
The debate on WiMAX vs. LTE will probably continue, but realistically there’s only one probable outcome. Both WiMAX and LTE will make up the future landscape of 4G.