Ronnie05's Blog

Debating WiMAX and LTE (Part II)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 21, 2009

Picking the winner

Experts and bloggers all over have contested and claimed on which one is better than the other LTE or WiMAX? This is perhaps precipitated by the camps which back the technologies. However, a third view on these technologies suggest that there is no winner in strict terms because these technologies are complementary in nature. Bore OFDM parent, WiMAX has a data background and LTE has a voice background. Furthermore, WiMAX will work on 5 levels of service such as emergency services, public safety, data transmission (real time and otherwise) and Voice. To that extent it appears to be more versatile than LTE which has only two levels of service (one for voice, and the other for everything else). So the usage and market positions of these two technologies will depend on customers and their usages, spectrum positions and other technology quantities. Thus the idea (as depicted bythe graphic below) is complementary technologies for divergent telecom needs. There is a possibility that a single vendor may be use both these standards to provide services to different class of consumers!wimax_and_lte_pic

Advantage LTE: Where does LTE score above WiMAX?

LTE is the natural evolution resultant from 2G to #G and onto LTE. Thus

1. Handset manufacturers are likely to weight toward LTE handsets (as an extension of their 2G,3G,3.5G lines)

2. Using the existing UMTS network for 80% of its needs, LTE will not involve very high CAPEX involvements. Thus a better experience can be rewarded to the consumer with less investment as far as Telcos are concerned.

3. Mobile operators will roll out LTE and users can fall back on the 2G/3G networks where-ever there is a “hole” in the LTE network.

Advantage WiMAX: Where WiMAX would outscore LTE?

1. WiMAX works on a open standard which translates into a cheaper network.This reduces the cost of operations to almost half of that of LTE

2. As discussed earlier with 5 levels of service, WiMAX is a more versatile service compared to LTE.

3. Build on the IEEE 802.16 wireless broadband standard, fixed WiMAX (802.16D) will tantamount to a huge WiFi area. So this can be used in large campuses and office complexes and for within city Broadband and voice services (as long as in line of sight). Thus in terms of usage, WiMAX can be versatile in terms of group usage as well.

Weaknesses LTE and WiMAX

1. LTE will be limited to single subscriber system on a large carpet area.

2. WiMAX would work on a multi subscriber system in a small carpet area. Also, with loss in line of sight and distances between the tower and the reciver, the rates of data transfer may be erratic and inconsistent.

Final Verdict

Yet again, it will be different strokes for different folks sort of a thing out here. Taking pole positions with any one technology could prove to be counterproductive for the players in the market. While LTE will ride upon 80% GSM market share, WiMAX will be handy in Enterprise operation markets and data heavy networks. So while LTE will be at a lesser advantage in Data, WiMAX may find it difficult to cover full geographies as exhaustively as LTE!

The interesting bit is that a study into cellular subscriber patterns in 2012 still reveal that 55% of 4.8 billion cellular subscribers (by 2012) would still be using the GSM/EDGE/GPRS technologies and only a lowly handful will be into WiMAX and LTE.

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