Clearwire pleads for a merger between WiMAX and LTE
March 25th, 2010 - 12:35 pm ET by C. D.
During the CTIA Wireless show, the president of Clearwire once again brought up the idea of merging the WiMAX and LTE mobile technologies.
Work on the proto-4G mobile technologies aimed at replacing 3G+ HSPA networks are ongoing, with two technologies emerging: WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution). The first has the advantage of already being a mature option which is running two years ahead of the other, while LTE, a direct replacement of GSM technologies has instead been selected by numerous mobile carriers.
The two technologies each have fervent supporters; even if numerous equipment manufacturers are leaving WiMAX in favour of LTE as large industrial groups deem this to provide better long term advantages.
Intel, in the middle of WiMAX developments since the beginning, started to feel things turning in 2008, and therefore decided to broker an alignment between WiMAX and LTE, as the two technologies share certain points of similarity.
LTE on the Clearwire/Sprint WiMAX network? This was the idea floated by the Clearwire president during the CTIA Wireless show, with the company jointly managing the first national WiMAX network in the United States with Sprint. Unlike what you may read here or there, the company isn’t throwing in the towel on WiMAX or its infrastructure.
Back as early as 2008, the president of Clearwire (at the time it was Ben Wolff) indicated that LTE was a possible evolution path for high speed mobile connections, despite the company’s engagement to uptake WiMAX.
The CTIA show is a good occasion for the industry to focus on the common points of the two technologies, rather than on their differences. It is also possible to envisage in a not too distant future that networks will be compatible with the two standards.
"We are not engaging in a battle. We wish to provide to our clients what they need. Our resources have been thought out and developed in a way that LTE can be can be offered if the need arises", were the comments made by Ben Wolff at the time.
Bill Morrow, the current CEO of Clearwire, has maintained the company’s objective of covering 270 million people in the United States over the coming years. Discussions are also planned to develop a joint venture with the carrier T-Mobile USA, with the aim being to better use the available mobile frequencies.
Providing WiMAX and LTE on the same network is for the time being not possible, unless the two are merged into a common standard. Analysts are waiting to see the results of multimode LTE/WiMAX USB sticks which will soon be released.