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Has LTE Already Won The Fight With WiMax?

by Sean P. Aune | November 11, 2010November 11, 2010 12:00 pm PST

Any time you have a format war, there’s going to be a loser. The most famous of these fights was VHS Vs. Beta, and to a lesser degree you would also have to throw in HD-DVD Vs. Blu-ray as one of the all time greats. However, there is a format war going on right now that not that many people outside of the tech world know about, but it could have a pretty significant impact on the future of your cell phone.

sprintwimaxTwo technologies popped up some time ago promising to be the next generation of phone speeds, or more commonly known as “4G”. One of them was named WiMax, and was heavily backed by mobile carrier Sprint in the United States, and the other is called LTE (Long Term Evolution) which was more of a standard like 802.11 is to Wi-Fi.  While WiMax had the backing of a company, LTE just out there for anyone to adopt, and as with any format war, someone had to come out as the easier one to work with.

It looks like LTE is going to end up the winner in this one.

According to the latest financial report from Sprint in regards to Clearwire – the division of the company with the sole purpose of working on WiMax – things are not going well.

…we do not expect our available cash and short-term investments as of September 30, 2010 to be sufficient to cover our estimated liquidity needs for the next 12 months. We also do not expect our operations to generate positive cash flows during the next 12 months…

In other words, Clearwire/WiMax could very well be joining Beta and HD-DVD in dead format Heaven in the sky in the not too distant future.  While the report didn’t flat out stat that WiMax is doomed, it sure looks like it might be.

This actually isn’t all that surprising as just about everyone has said LTE is far easier to implement for companies, easier to upgrade and is cheaper on the whole than WiMax.  What I’m curious about is where it will leave people that have bought current “4G” products from Sprint such as a phone or an Overdrive mobile Wi-Fi device?  Something tells me those won’t be supporting LTE.

What say you?  Is LTE going to be the clear winner.


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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