LTE and WiMax: Good News All Around

Carl Weinschenk

The transition of 4G from a future technology with great potential to a current standard that is in the early stages of a long-term adoption and deployment cycle is upon us. Last week, WiMax got a big shot in the arm when Clearwire announced an alliance with Cisco that, if fully consummated, shows a road to fulfillment of the service provider's promise to make WiMax a serious national play.


This week, it seems to be Long Term Evolution's (LTE) turn. Today, Pyramid Research released a report that essentially says LTE is on pace to becoming a record-shattering new technology. The firm says the platform will grow at a 404 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from next year to 2014. This, Pyramid points out, would mean that it has a faster ramp-up than 3G technology. The dynamic the consultancy lays out: Early growth will be fueled by Japan, the U.S. and other established markets. However, uptake in emerging markets will be 30 percent faster. This will result in undeveloped markets gradually gaining the upper hand. They will move 5 percent of the total in 2010 to 43 percent in 2014. In the big picture, the dual drivers bode well for the platform's long-term prospects.


Part of the evolutionary process of moving from the lab and field trials into real-world deployments is the creation of efficient operations by vendors. What was done in trials must be replicated, but much more efficiently and inexpensively. One such advance was announced today by Motorola. The self-organizing network (SON) is said by Motorola to reduce costs via the automation of previously manual planning, deployment, optimization and operational steps.


On an even more granular level, Analog Devices today announced integrated RF to baseband transceivers-the AD9356 and the AD9357-that can be used for WiMax and LTE picocells and microcells, the company says. The release offers a tremendous amount of background on both products. The bottom line is that they are part of the drive by vendors to cash in on the transition of LTE and WiMax from the lab tests and field trials into full commercial production.


At times, people may see the relationship between two nascent platforms as more confrontational than it really is. Before 4G actually establishes itself, an announcement favoring one really is only a mixed good news/bad news result-not a total loss -- for the technology that comes out with the short end of the stick. In other words, Verizon Wireless and AT&T choosing LTE certainly isn't a victory for WiMax. Nor is WiMax adherent Clearwire making a deal with Cisco a good thing for LTE. But the loser in each of these marketplace face-offs can take some solace in the fact that the entire 4G category benefits when either side scores. That kind of category-wide progress is vital as the platform strives to truly establish itself. And, judging from the past couple of weeks, those victories and half-victories are happening with more regularity.

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May 21, 2009 11:46 AM Robert Malley Robert Malley  says:

I think Pyramid research has become a biased analyst for 3G lobby as opposed to being a neutral analyst. The claims of 404 percent subscriber growth 2010-2014 for LTE when not a single commercial LTE network has been deployed anywhere is pure hyperbole because the analyst has been retained by the 3G lobby. WiMAX reaches 400 million people today in terms of reach, subscriber growth this year is 100% from 2.5 million trending to around 5 million EOY 2009. By EOY 2010 it should hit 10 million worldwide. For WiMAX that was being deployed since 2008 if this is the trajectory for LTE this trajectory will only be achievable starting 2012, when more products and IOT chinks are overcome. So please be cautious when you read this highly biased report.

May 21, 2009 11:52 AM Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk  says: in response to Robert Malley

Thanks for your comments, Robert. Of course, analyst neutralityand lack thereofis a huge issue. Always had been and always will be. I am not going to comment on that in the big picture. On the granular level, however, I would point out that a 404 percent CAGR is not out of the question for even a moderately successful technology, if the beginning point is 0. The company may have trumpeted that in the release because it is an interesting number, and the job of the person writing the release is to generate interest. So it probably wasn't necessarily meant to help the 3G lobby, just to generate interest. Again, thanks.

May 24, 2010 10:26 AM Indy Indy  says: in response to Robert Malley

Robert, I have seen your comments about WiMax in various posts and would like to get in contsct with you. Please contact me at



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