Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Race to 4G....

A long-term battle is brewing between two emerging high-speed wireless technologies, WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE). Each would more than quadruple existing wireless wide-area access speeds for users. Both are 4G technologies designed to move data rather than voice. Both are IP networks based on OFDM technology

The two technologies are somewhat alike in the way they transmit signals and even in their network speeds. The meaningful differences have more to do with politics - specifically, which carriers will offer which technology.

The Genesis
WiMax is based on a IEEE standard (802.16).It’s an open standard that was debated by a large community of engineers before getting ratified.The level of openness means WiMax equipment is standard and therefore cheaper to buy!

LTE or Long Term Evolution is a 4G wireless technology and is considered the next in line in the GSM evolution path after UMTS/HSPDA 3G technologies. LTE is espoused and standardized via the 3GPP or 3rd Generation Partnership Project members. 3GPP is a global telecommunications consortium having members in most GSM dominant countries.

Whereas WiMAX emerged from the WiFi IP paradigm, LTE is a result of the classic GSM technology path. LTE is behind in the race to 4G with WiMAX getting an early lead with the likes of Sprint ClearWire and several operators in Asia opting to go with WiMAX in the near term. So where WiMAX has a speed to market advantage, LTE has massive adoption and GSM parenthood to back it up.

LTE will take time to roll out, with deployments reaching mass adoption by 2012 . WiMax is out now, and more networks should be available later this year.

Speed offered
LTE will be faster than the current generation of WiMax as per well known text books, but 802.16m that should be ratified this year, offers similar speeds.The speeds expected by both LTE and WiMax are hard to nail down primarily because the technologies are just rolling out. But many factors will have to be taken into consideration.Speed to an end user is also dependent on how many users are connected to a cell tower, how far away they are, what frequency is used, the processing power of the user's device, and other factors.

Who will win?
For end users, the current debate over WiMax vs. LTE is largely theoretical but is nonetheless important.Analysts see a clear dominance by LTE in a few years, since so many carriers are bound to adopt it. However, that won't serve every user or every company. It is still going to be a combination of technologies and developers, WiMax may be one of those; but not the only one!!!

1 comment:

Giuliano said...

Here in Brazil we are still in 2,5G. Hope we reach 4G soon...