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CTIA: Motorola, WiMAX and LTE


Get ready for a flood of wireless news and analysis in the run-up to CTIA. Among the topics of discussion will be fierce debate on the current state of WiMAX, and in fact it’s begun already. I opened up TechMeme this morning and was greeted by the news that several cable companies are looking to add funds to a proposed Sprint/Clearwire WiMAX network. This brings up two issues as far as I’m concerned: cable companies attempting once again to harness the quad play (adding on wireless to voice, video and data), and the “fight” between WiMAX and LTE. I’ll leave the first issue to other experts except to agree with Om Malik that the timing is appropriate given the recent 700 MHz spectrum wins by Verizon and AT&T. Regarding the second issue, I have a bit more to say.

News of the death of WiMAX has been wildly overstated. There’s confusion between the state of WiMAX in the US and the state of WiMAX in the rest of the world, where, except for an odd Aussie deployment, WiMAX is doing quite well. And in the US, despite dire predictions about the resources behind WiMAX, there is simply too much investment already made to pull back, even if people (namely Sprint and Clearwire) wanted to. This is a good thing! Let’s continue to give love and development resources to LTE, another 4G technology, but since WiMAX is going to bring higher-speed wireless broadband to the US faster than LTE, folks should be all for it.

Which brings me to my last point. WiMAX and LTE have a lot in common. Motorola’s Fred Wright stated back in January that between 70% and 80% of the development work being done for WiMAX can be used for LTE. The proof is in the pudding, right? Motorola announced today a new common hardware platform that will be used to support both WiMAX and LTE access points. It’s not the first hardware on the market to be used for both purposes, but it’s Motorola’s third-generation OFDM platform, smaller than earlier versions and benefiting (in terms of cost, size, and power consumption) from the company’s extensive experience with commercial WiMAX deployments.

There will be a lot more discussion about both WiMAX and LTE around CTIA, but the important thing to remember is that both have a lot of potential upside for everyone: hardware manufacturers, service providers and consumers.

8 Responses

  1. While WiMAX/LTE re-use is the right way to go (as previously pointed out, NokiaSiemens and others have already made similar product announcements) the challenge is execution. Mr. Wright suggested there was 70% to 80% re-use possible which sounds tantalizing and makes a good sound bite but it will likely be difficult to pull off. More power to them if they can do it.

  2. It is going to be interesting to track the fallout of the Buzz Broadband fall out. I saw Sprint had already joined Airspan on the defensive. The announcement was in Bangkok where Motorola has been touting a successful trial. I thought Carlo had an interesting perspective on this over at I was reading on this over hyperconnectivity.com. My guess is that the fall out will be minimal. What you all think?

  3. […] move from one spectrum band to another. And, quite likely there will even be devices that support LTE and WiMAX both. Even when operators have to choose a single standard, consumers are likely have options. […]

  4. […] 2009, including a full interview with 4G expert Fred Wright. The Motorola executive talks about the differences between WiMAX and LTE, and why different wireless technologies are suited to different operators. You can read the […]

  5. […] What’s interesting is that this puts Comcast and TWC on track to get 4G wireless out before the big telcos, and before Cox, which just purchased spectrum in the 700 MHz auction. AT&T and Verizon are moving forward with LTE (Cox may be doing CDMA or LTE), but that technology is going to take longer to deploy than WiMAX. […]

  6. […] began focusing on OFDM-based technology (also the basis for Motorola’s WiMAX solutions) all the way back in 2004, and that early focus is part of what has given the company a significant […]

  7. Affiliate Crunch…

    Making money with this post is easier than I thought….

  8. […] is overlap in WiMAX and LTE technology, which means lessons learned in WiMAX development can be applied in further LTE rollouts. Even as […]

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