Ronnie05's Blog

LTE,WiMAX: Co-Existance over Absolute Winning

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on April 10, 2009


Making its loyalties clear, for the first time in about 5 years, Nokia has averred LTE to be the future 4G technology standards over WiMAX. In an interview to Financial Times, Nokia EVP (New Markets) Anssi Vanjoki, fore-beared WiMAX to be Betamax of the 4G technology standards. His remarks were the most dismissive by Nokia of WiMax to date. Nokia has previously been perceived as taking care not to be too critical of WiMax, while Nokia still has a seat on the board of the WiMax Forum.

Sony Betamax and VHS were also involved in a war of video format technology standards in 1970s and 80s, which was eventually won by VHS setting the technology standard.


The Finnish company is betting the 4G wireless standard LTE – Long Term Evolution – will dominate the mobile world by 2015 and WiMax will be the big loser.Nokia’s claim is the first in an open forum and comes after the Finnish Phone maker has had stakes in both the technologies. Nokia went as far as developing the first prototype of WiMAX based internet tablets, which were subsequently never put to production. The telecommunication industry is increasingly getting fragmented into the LTE and the WiMAX camps.


While I have covered WiMAX and LTE in a few other blog posts as well, I fail to see why one technology must beat the other in the future technology perspective. Both technologies may be fulfilling the same objective of high speed data carriers, but the technologies per se are based on very different platforms. LTE with its greater carpet area will allow users to access high speed data from a bigger geography. It has an able back up in terms of the 3G/2G network. If there is a hole in the LTE, users will tend to fall back on the 3G/2G backbones, there by not breaking the connection. The ability to leverage on the 3G/UMTS infrastructure decreases the initial costs.


WiMAX on the other hand, depends on line of sight which limits the geographical spread. However, it’s enhanced features such as security and multi-bands make it a huge bet in the enterprise segment. It will essentially replace WiFi as the office standard. Being a high value segment, the profitability of WiMAX could be expected to be higher that LTE. From the consumer perspective, WiMAX has a low operating cost, reducing the per unit cost. However, unlike the LTE, WiMAX has a high initial cost of infrastructure installation.


On the whole, while 80% of the telecom footprint will be LTE, WiMAX’s 20% will be more profitable and versatile. LTE on the other hand will be mostly voice/data based services.


I guess, we will have to wait and watch how this space develops. It will be only good for the consumers if both technologies are allowed to take their own course to offer the best of 4G technologies to the consumer. The future ought to be decided by the consumer more than anyone else.

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