Observers are quick to point out that the common wisdom comes down squarely on the side of Long Term Evolution (LTE), the variation of 4G technology favored by the telephone industry. They say that its WiMax cousin-and in this case the phrasing is particularly accurate because of a great deal of shared underlying technology-is destined for niche status.
But WiMax hangs in there. Indeed, through its use by Clear, which is backed by a gaggle of cable operators, Sprint and various vendors, WiMax is ahead of LTE in deployments.
The technology is getting a couple of boosts. The first came his week in an interesting announcement by three entities-Sprint, Clearwire (the brand name of the service provided by Clear) and Time Warner Cable. The trio will roll out versions of the Clear service under their own branding by the end of the year. The eWEEK story has details of the service, which will be a bit pricey. Clear will offer services in San Francisco and Los Angeles by year's end.
The second boost is the appearance of a much more potent version of the standard. InformationWeek reports that Samsung earlier this month demonstrated WiMax 2 at a trade show in Japan. (It was reported at Pocket Now that it was the CEATEC show.) WiMax 2-more formally, 802.16m-is capable of a robust 330 Megabits per second (Mbps), a significant increase of the 40 Mbps of the current version of WiMax.
This was enough, according to the Pocket Now piece on the CEATEC demo, to carry an unknown number 3D movies alongside16 HD movies, all of which were displayed on four screens. The InformationWeek piece has good background on WiMax 2. The standard is expected to be finalized next month and commercial products available in 2011.
LTE has a bright future, of course. It might be a bit premature, however, to suggest that WiMax is destined to be an afterthought.