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WiMax Has a Huge Head Start on LTE

by Sean P. Aune | February 21, 2010February 21, 2010 2:22 am PST

While WiMax seems to get all the discussion and name dropping in the coming 4G roll outs, let us not forget that there is another competitor out there in the field by the name of LTE.

The other day we wrote about how WiMax deployment in the United States is lagging behind what is happening with the technology in the rest of the world.  Deployment is supposed to hit a peak around the end of 2011, which will be just in time for the proposed roll out of LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is supposed to begin in the United States.

lte_logoWhile WiMax is supposed to deliver 10 Mbps, LTE currently has a theoretical maximum of 100 Mbps on the downlink, and 50 Mbps on the uplink.  However, according to a report from PC World, a test run on the first commercially deployed network from Swedish operator TeliaSonera showed that it only reached 12 Mbps.  There were many excuses offered as the possible reasons for this, but the most logical seemed to be that there was a considerable distance between the base station and the repeater station.  As more equipment is rolled out it is believed that the throughput will be increased, and with the European Commission pledging €18 million (approx. $24.4 million USD) to looking into the deployment of the technology, it’ll be interesting to see where the speeds go.

The problem in the USA is that by the time LTE is ready to roll out, American cell carriers will have already made a considerable investment into WiMax.  The first equipment is expected to be ready for deployment in late 2011, and by the end of 2010 (no stats available for the end of 2011), WiMax is expected to cover 120 million Americans.  Will the cell carriers be willing to switch to another technology when they haven’t had nearly enough time to recoup their investment?

This same argument could be made about what is going on in Europe, where WiMax has a much deeper market penetration already, but they seem more open to the idea to making the switch, so will the same happen here?  Only time will tell, and how desperate the population is for faster mobile speeds, and I for one am willing to wait, and hope that LTE does indeed take off.  The idea of having faster speeds while  mobile than I get in my home on a cable line?  Where do I sign up?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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