Synchronicity is a weird thing. This morning, I had a sit-down meeting with Siegmund M. Redt of Altair Semiconductor. We talked about the expansion of 4G across the developed world and into markets like India and China. As you'd expect, Siegmund was bullish on LTE. But he had no faith whatsoever in WiMAX 4G:
"WiMAX has, I think, lost out in the race to market. The economy of scale is not there. With LTE you talk about a standard that was developed and carried through by many people across the industry. It builds logically on 2G and 3G specifications. LTE has won out."
Which is exactly what you'd expect a General Manager from Altair Semiconductor to say. But those bold words were backed up by the breaking news that Sprint is evaluating a switch over to LTE. The carrier plans to spend four to six more months watching the growth of Clear's service. If it doesn't satisfy them...Sprint may well be the second US LTE carrier.
The rest of the industry- everyone but Sprint/Clear, has already set their sights on LTE. It has support from across the world, while WiMAX appears to be as landlocked a technology as CDMA. Siegmund again:
"There will always be islands of solutions. What we see today with LTE is the world converging on single standards. LTE is international as no other standard before. LTE is going to be the common denominator of mobile technology in the future."
One reason LTE has such an edge is Quality of Service Management. This allows the carrier to alter the bandwidth delivered based on what you are doing at the time. If you're browsing the web, you don't need as much spectrum as someone streaming a video. Being able to manage this load intelligently is crucial for keeping costs down and ensuring that everyone has enough Internet.
I've been using a Sprint/Clear 4G connection for almost a year from now. And I like it. WiMAX blows 3G out of the water, and unlimited data is fantastically useful for a working man like me. But the future- and the speed- is in LTE. The end is near, WiMAX. Make peace with your gods.