Another nail in WiMAX’s coffin?

28 July 2011 |


The race to LTE continues, but now the big question is the choice of LTE technology.

Recent months have seen a flurry of reports celebrating the phenomenal growth of LTE take up around the world.

Telegeography predicts that by 2015, LTE subscribers worldwide will outnumber WiMAX subscribers by 7:1 (see here). In fact, earlier this month the GSMA told the Taiwanese authorities to focus on developing LTE, rather than their preferred WiMAX networks (see here). To a large extent, the LTE/WiMAX battle seems to have been settled.

However, other questions about the future of LTE technology continue. Maravedis, wireless market research and analysis specialist, has released statistics about the version of LTE being selected by operators.

At the end of Q2 2011, it found that 177 operators are committed to frequency division duplexing LTE (FDD-LTE), which uses two frequencies for communication, thereby transmitting and receiving data simultaneously. Twenty of these operators have already launched commercial FDD-LTE services.

However, in the same period Maravedis found that 21 operators are committed to time division duplexing LTE (TD-LTE), which uses only one frequency, allocating different time to transmit and receive data.

Spectrum availability is currently much smaller for TD-LTE than for FDD-LTE, which Maravedis believes is part of the reason for FDD-LTE’s comparative popularity. However, a number of major players seem to be moving increasingly towards TD-LTE.

China Mobile is planning to launch its TD-LTE networks a year ahead of schedule, and there is reported interest from major players in Russia, Japan, India and the US.

Maravedis forecasts that by 2016, around 20% of LTE subscribers (65 million) will be TD-LTE subscribers; while the remaining 80% (around 260 million) will be using FDD-LTE.

None of this can be good news for the WiMAX industry.