Monday, January 19, 2009

LTE vs Wimax : Myths and Realities

I was browsing through today and landed up at a discussion forum of Sprint Nextel. The post clears out the myths associated with LTE and Wimax and their convergence etc etc. The post is dated back to May 2008. The post tends towards Wimax since Sprint is largely deploying Wimax I suppose. Here are few myths and realities directly from the discussion page:

Myth: LTE is backwards compatible with 3G.
Reality: Strictly speaking, backwards compatibility implies that a 3G device can connect to an LTE base station. This is categorically not the case. LTE requires new base stations and new client devices. An HSPA handset will not be able to connect to an LTE base station, period.

Myth: LTE performance is better than WiMAX.
Reality: Because LTE & WiMAX are both based upon OFDMA-MIMO, there is not expected to be a significant performance delta over time. Because WiMAX will have been deployed commercially for over two years before the first LTE network is deployed in 2010, it may have superior performance initially.

Myth: LTE is an evolution of HSPA (3G)
Reality: The 3G evolution from WCDMA to HSPA was achieved via upgrades to operators’ existing 3G networks. LTE is not a 3G upgrade -- it must be deployed in new spectrum and requires a new radio access network (base station hardware, client devices) and connection to a new “all IP” core network (different from today’s 3G core networks.)It is possible to add LTE to existing 2G, 3G cell sites

Myth: Operators will replace their existing 2G/3G networks with LTE.
Reality: We expect operators to maintain their existing 2G or 3G networks for the foreseeable future. These networks are very efficient for voice and have built up good coverage over the years. Similar to WiMAX, LTE will initially be deployed as an overlay data network in
new spectrum. Operators will offer multi-mode handsets (e.g,. HSPA + LTE or HSPA + WiMAX) to provide the best of both worlds (coverage + high speed) to their subscribers while they build out their 4G networks over several years.

Myth: WiMAX & 3G are competitors
Reality: We expect WiMAX & 3G to be complementary. Whereas the circuit-switched voice offered by 2G & 3G networks is very efficient, WiMAX provides about 3x more data capacity than today’s 3G networks. This means operators can maintain their existing 2G or 3G network for voice & narrower-band data, and deploy WiMAX for more data intensive

Myth: WiMAX will not have as big a device selection as LTE
Reality: Even with the very first commercial Mobile WiMAX network in So. Korea, we’ve already seen a level in the variety of devices which exceeds that available for 3G today. For example, one of the most popular form factors for accessing the Wibro network are WiMAX USB
dongles with integrated MP3 players and/or storage. PC economics and innovation are backing WiMAX -- so one shouldn’t apply a traditianal “telecom” device model when comparing WiMAX & LTE. We also expect the M-Taiwan initiative and the KDDI consortium in Japan to help drive a level of device innovation not seen before for a new wireless technology.

Myth: WiMAX & LTE are going to converge.
Reality: Because WiMAX & LTE are so similar, some believe the two should converge. We’re not sure if such convergence will ever get traction, but for now, mobile WiMAX is two to three years ahead of LTE in terms of major commercial deployments and is moving full steam

The detailed post with comments can be found here.

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