Will WiMax or LTE win out?


EDGE, 3G and HSDPA are all very well, but what will the next jump in technology be for wireless internet? There are two competing technologies – WiMax and LTE. Which one is likely to win the race in the UK?

WiMax is based on Wi-Fi, and doesn’t require a SIM card for usage. Its benefits are that it’s an open standard – anyone can create the gear required to use the technology without paying license fees. That means the tech can be up to half as expensive as the equivalent LTE tech.

LTE, on the other hand, is based on the existing 3G network technology. In fact, LTE stands for “The Long Term Evolution of 3GPP”. Its advantages are that it’s well-understood by carriers, and when a device is out of range of an LTE signal, it can drop back to a 3G or 2G service. LTE’s currently a little faster, too, but that difference should be addressed by the ratification of a new WiMax standard later this year.

In the last year or so, Motorola’s been trialling an LTE service, but there are already commercial WiMax deployments out there. As a result, WiMax has an early lead. But given how entrenched many operators are in their love of 3GPP networks, we’ll soon be seeing more of that. In fact, Motorola’s already testing an LTE network.

What’s eventually likely to happen, however, is that laptops and netbooks will rely on WiMax (thanks to lower prices and enhanced compatibility) and LTE will take hold on mobile devices, just because it’s easier for operators to continue working how they do now.

So I reckon it’ll be a draw, and both technologies will have their own places in the next 5-10 years. Bit of a cop-out, perhaps, but there you go. What’s your opinion? Drop us a tweet at @techdigest letting us know exactly how wrong we are.