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Thursday, December 04, 2008

LTE+WiMAX dual-mode is inevitable

There's plenty of continued debate about the supposed battle between "LTE vs WiMAX".

I suspect the winner will be "both".

There's an interesting comment from Clearwire about this here . And I'm hearing about dual-mode LTE/WiMAX chips and devices.

In fact, I'm forecasting that by the start of next decade, there will be more dual-mode modems and modules sold, than standalone WiMAX ones.

5 comments:

Paul said...

Dean, are you really swallowing this stuff ""If LTE truly becomes established as a global standard as WiMAX has........""

WiMAX a global standard?? Of course, we're talking 'the WiMAX Family here, and the incompatible fixed WiMAX as being the reference. Well in that case LTE can quote 'family' members at over 2 Billion, which I'd say is pretty global. Amongst those numbers are around 100 Million HSPA customers on already built networks that are offering better than Clearwire data-rates across their whole footprint.

Because LTE is not the business challenge to WiMAX, HSPA is, and it has a 2 year or more market advantage.

""In fact, I'm forecasting that by the start of next decade, there will be more dual-mode modems and modules sold, than standalone WiMAX ones.""

That and the comment from Clearwire about eventual LTE deployments sounds to me like the war is certainly over, with capitulation a year or 2 away. Of course it makes sense to deploy dual-mode devices, so you can keep your customers when you turn off the WiMAX network.

Dean Bubley said...

Paul

You're right, there's some serious hyperbole in that statement from Clearwire. And I agree that HSPA and WiMAX (in 802.16e guise) are the relevant rivals.

I was just using it to illustrate something else - the emergence of WiMAX/cellular dual-mode devices.

There are already WiMAX/GSM and WiMAX/CDMA products on the way, and I expect to see more evolution.

I don't expect to see WiMAX networks turned off. At the moment, it's the only practical use for TDD spectrum outside China, and is considerably higher-spec than TD-SCDMA. Given the likely aggregate demands for mobile broadband capacity, we'll want to use all the frequencies we can, with whatever the most convenient radio happens to be.

The big question is around LTE-TDD. I'm yet to be convinced that it'll be widely adopted outside China, especially as overall LTE timelines will be pushed to the right because of the recession.

There's also a small possibility of using half-duplex FDD in TDD spectrum, but it's not something I've looked into.

Europe is a difficult call on both LTE and WiMAX. The main variable I see is whether macro networks for HSPA get congested before femtos are ready for primetime. Then there will be opportunity for WiMAX providers to siphon off some dissatisfied HSPA customers before the belated arrival of LTE in 2011-2012.

Dean

CEO said...

Would you expect all "GSM-based" operators to go w/ LTE?

Related to this thread: ‘Sprint 4G’ on tap: CDMA/WiMAX modems to hit store shelves this year:

http://www.rcrwireless.com/article/20081205/WIRELESS/812049987/1090/-sprint-4g-on-tap-cdma-wimax-modems-to-hit-store-shelves-this-year#

Paul said...

I see your point on TDD spectrum and the position is hard to predict in that aspect

""Europe is a difficult call on both LTE and WiMAX. The main variable I see is whether macro networks for HSPA get congested before femtos are ready for primetime. Then there will be opportunity for WiMAX providers to siphon off some dissatisfied HSPA customers before the belated arrival of LTE in 2011-2012.""

If spectrum is available to WiMAX operators in Europe, it's also available to LTE operators, most of whom also happen to be HSPA operators.

Given that LTE is most likely to be deployed on some form of SDR radio (what NSN, Ericsson and Huawei have in common is the ability to offer HSPA and LTE in the same bands) if LTE is delayed, do you not see a straightforward business case to use the spectrum for HSPA in the short term? HSPA 900 is becoming ubiquitous on new devices and quin-band devices should hit the market in 2009 with LTE added late in the year.

Incidentally, I presume that you've seen that StarHub's 3G Femto offering is a voice-only proposition (data is still charged at 'maket rates') and with only 4 users on the whitelist, white-spots are going to be more common.

Mo Yan said...

It is inevitable because they both use
the same radio scheme (OFDM) , and all
the MAC/PHY RRM (scheduling etc) can
be reused.

The RF side might be a bit different
with any differences in the frequency
bands for LTE and WiMAX (RF is a
dark art - and building components to
operate well in some bands may not
transfer well to other bands) . But
as already noted, technology such as
SDR (on base stations certainly) will
make a difference.

But then this is what 4G is supposed
to be about (flexible support of
air interface where/when possible) .