Friday, May 29, 2009

The WiMax vs. LTE "battle" is nothing but media sensationalism

There has certainly been no scarcity of wireless industry sensationalism over emerging 4G technologies, but today's post on The Register - LTE set to spank WiMAX takes it into a new realm. Perhaps it has something to do with the British sense of humor on this cheeky IT-related website, but since the author is based in San Francisco you can form your own conclusion on the source of the S&M analogy.

These type of sensational headlines do nothing but detract from any objective discussion of the changing wireless landscape, and how it will enhance consumer experiences. The facts are that WiMax is becoming available now in several U.S. markets, with Clearwire's launch in Baltimore, Portland and Atlanta. LTE will be here a year or two later. Great! Both technologies hold the promise of significantly faster than DSL speeds, for fixed and mobile applications. Personally, I can't wait to break the restraints of my sluggish, sub-Mbps AT&T DSL... and I live in the heart of silicon valley! (Couldn't resist throwing in my own S&M pun there). :-)

WiMax will be Sprint/Clearwire's 4G platform, and LTE will be the platform for ATT, Verizon et al. WiMax should continue to get faster as it moves to IEEE 802.16m, while the (yet-to-launch in the U.S.) LTE eventually moves to LTE-advanced. What's the problem?

Anyone with any inkling of the history of the wireless industry knows better than to ever expect a single global standard. Competition is always good, and there's no need to characterize it as "make or break". As technology advances, we all win.


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