Lately, analysts and tech news web sites race to publish posts about WiMAX quickly loosing ground to LTE, as vendors seem to increase their efforts to push LTE out the door sooner. I have to admit I am a bit puzzled as I don’t see anything like that happening .
Time to market advantage: It is claimed that the WiMAX time to market advantage is fading since efforts for LTE are stepped up. That’s a typical Gartner’s hype cycle curve thing. About a year or two ago, WiMAX was the hype and nobody cared that no matter what the marketing people said it’s normal for a system to take several years from hype to actual deployment. When it came to delivering on the promises it happened what always happens, they had to admit they were not ready yet. It has happened with GSM, it has happened with GPRS, it has happened with UMTS and it will happen again with LTE. Now LTE has hit that spot in the curve and everybody is predicting the same thing as for WiMAX: Trials and deployments are imminent. Give it another 6 months and everybody suddenly sees that marketing and reality are, as always, far apart from each other. And if you don’t believe it yet, take a look at current LTE "mobiles" and compare that to available WiMAX PC-cards and existing networks.
Different markets: The markets for LTE and WiMAX are very different. No GSM/UMTS operator has ever seriously considered going to WiMAX, despite ramblings by Arun Sarin and a few others which in my opinion were only made to push LTE vendors a bit to speed up standards work. The only serious competition WiMAX can create for LTE with established network operators is in the CDMA arena were operators,such as Sprint, that haven’t decided to go to HSPA and are thus in need of a 4G system. In my opinion, WiMAX is the choice for new network operators to challenge the incumbents. And there is not much of a chance such new operators would start with LTE, that turf is in the hand of WiMAX.
Market size: I think most analysts have agreed for quite a while now that the market size for LTE is bigger than that for WiMAX. Not much of a surprise here either.
So I really don’t quite understand the fuzz. What do you think?