4G LTE Beats Wimax for Mobile Network Supremacy

In 2008, Sprint launched their Wimax network and they changed the mobile landscape. When it initially launched in Baltimore, Sprint felt they were in a position of strength that would be hard to touch for several years. Now in 2012, Sprint has dropped Wimax and all mobile carriers in the United States are planning to launch a 4G LTE network for their phones, tablets and dongles.

Dan Hesse must have been proud. After taking the helm of Sprint he decided to partner up with Clearwire to deliver 4G to the United States. The advantages were clear; Wimax was capable of delivering speeds that other 3G networks couldn’t. Sprint was going to take their Wimax service all over the country in a bid to add users after years of losing them to their competition.

Things didn’t go as well as planned. Clearwire continued to lose money and instead of continuing to work with Sprint to push Wimax into all corners of America they had to create a plan to remain solvent. Sprint kept pumping money into Clearwire which compromised their situation as well. In other parts of the world Wimax is popular and has been used to provide residential data 4G LTE Dongle United Kingdom and voice services but use with mobile phones was limited. Sprint was using Wimax at 2.5GHz which made it hard for the signal to penetrate walls and buildings but their phones suffered in the battery life department. Many who used phones with Sprint 4G ended up not using the service because they couldn’t access the network or didn’t want to suffer the drop off in battery performance.

This left room for other mobile carriers to make their own decision on Wimax and they decide that there had to be another way. Everything changed on December 5th, 2010 when Verizon announced that they’d be launching 4G LTE. Since that announcement they’ve expanded into hundreds of markets all across the US and were followed by AT&T. Even Sprint is in the process of transitioning their network to LTE. Now that we’ve gone into what happened let’s go into the why. It all boils down to two words: upgrade path.

LTE makes a great overlay technology for existing GSM and HSPA networks. LTE is also seen as an upgrade path for TD-SCDMA which is used in China. Wimax evolved from wifi, but as networks went from GPRS to EDGE to HSPA, mobile providers had to figure out what was next. LTE offered the ability to provided increased speak with more efficient use of bandwidth. As more and more networks announced that they’d be transitioning to LTE and more equipment manufacturers got behind it Wimax didn’t stand a chance.

Also from a speed standpoint Wimax has a top speed of 30 Mb/s while LTE has a top speed of 100 Mb/s. If you have to split bandwidth you’d have an easier chance to do it when the speed is higher. The last difference which is probably the most important is that LTE uses a SIM card whereas Wimax is more of an open standard. This means that other wireless carriers would have a hard time making their network unique from their competitors. With LTE mobile operators are able to make their devices exclusive to each other.


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