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10/05/2010 The 4G Wrestling or the 4G Wedding?
3G,implemented 4 years ago, has almost reached its saturation point, and thus the war among major U.S wireless carriers- Verizon, AT&T and Sprint- has begun. 2010 is a turning point in the telecommunication market and companies are trying to take over the 4th generation industry: 4G.
Consumers expect a high speed connection between 100Mb /s and 1Gb/s, contrary to 3G which does not exceed 14.4 Mb/s. Two technologies with this capability are in competition: WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and LTE (Long Term Evolution).

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies. LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communication in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite. The LTE solution is supported by AT&T and Verizon and should be implemented by the end of 2010. However, LTE still remains slower than Wimax and tests show that the infrastructure is not mature enough, and will need about 2 more years to be completely efficient.

The other technology called WiMAX, developed by Sprint and Clearwire is already available as a type of broad-base Wi-Fi. More than 450 tests are on-going to deliver high-speed connections to cell phones and landline devices in more than 135 countries like Kenya, Russia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, India, Denmark, Japan and the US. The Wimax advantages are threefold: it can be spread in remote areas such as emerging countries; the technology is operational and functions with any device integrated with a Wimax chip; and it solves roaming problems. Despite these advantages and the anticipation over 4G, Sprint and Clearwire are not leaders of the U.S wireless carriers market. Indeed, LTE has a better popularity rating than Wimax, and neither Sprint nor Clearwire has enough money to challenge Verizon and AT&T.

While US carriers wrestle with these options, one wonders if a marriage between the two technologies would be a better alternative. WiMAX, which is already available and updated, could be implemented initially, allowing time to improve the LTE infrastructure. Thus, consumers can experience the superior performance of LTE without losing connectivity in the mean time. Accordingly, it seems that WiMAX and LTE are more complementary than rivals.


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