Friday, July 22, 2011

Dual-mode devices will ease the transition from WiMAX to LTE

While much speculation continues regarding how and when Sprint - the 1st 4G operator in the U.S., will begin its inevitable transition from WiMAX to LTE, operators in other parts of the world have already started the process. Malaysia-based WiMAX solutions provider Greenpacket, owner of network operator Packet One Networks (P1), and 4G modem chip designer Sequans have announced a collaboration for the development of dual-mode WiMAX/LTE devices. According to a joint press release, Greenpacket says that they are "testing Sequans technology to develop LTE and dual-mode WiMAX/LTE reference designs as part of its strategy to launch a complete ecosystem of 4G networking solutions and devices by the end of 2011".
“We are testing Sequans’ system-on-chip technology to develop LTE reference designs, including a dual-mode WiMAX/LTE reference design for our operator customers primarily in Asia, CALA and Middle East,” said, James Wang, Senior Vice President of Innovation, Strategies and Development (ISD) at Greenpacket. “We intend to offer our solutions to early adopters of LTE such as P1 in support of its LTE/WiMAX coexistence strategy.”

Sequans won the design-in for Sprint's first 4G smartphone, the HTC EVO, and have been developing a number of collaborations to move into the LTE market, first for TD-LTE (time-division duplex) - which would be the most likely migration path for the Sprint-Clearwire 4G spectrum assets. With competitors such as AT&T and T-Mobile causing consumer confusion by relabeling their 3G HSPA+ offerings as "4G", it will be critical for Sprint to make their WiMAX-LTE transition as seamless as possible for their customers.  Introducing yet another incompatible version of 4G can only hurt their chance of keeping up with Verizon's rapid LTE rollout.

To address this issue Sequans has created a "4Sight" program, to promote their WiMAX-LTE coexistence technologies and solutions for operators and device manufacturers. Competitors such as Beceem, now acquired by Broadcom, are also developing dual-mode 4G chips.

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