Is WiMAX 2 ITU nod too little, too late?
The next generation of mobile broadband officially has been standardized, and it may come as a surprise to some that WiMAX still has a role to play, at least according to the International Telecommunications Union. The ITU has approved its IMT-Advanced standards, including not only the LTE Advanced specification, but also WiMAX 2 WirelessMAN-Advanced spec.
WiMAX 2 has been in its developmental stages for the last few years, and once looked like the next step forward for any service provider with Fixed WiMAX or 802.11e Mobile WiMAX. However, as noted by ABI Research in a report released earlier this month, WiMAX 2's promise has been eclipsed by TD-LTE. Large carriers, such as Sprint and Clearwire, who once seemed the most obvious candidates for deployment of WiMAX 2 or forging ahead down the LTE path.
There may still be other large carriers and many smaller ones around the world interested in deploying WiMAX 2, and what the ITU standard means for them is that market activity can begin in earnest, with vendors producing WiMAX 2 equipment and service providers outlining their trial and deployment schedules.
Like LTE Advanced, WiMAX 2 raises the bandwidth bar for mobile broadband to the range of 100 Mbps, and is also much more spectrum-efficient than earlier generations of mobile broadband. For now, much of the industry debate around these technologies seems to be focusing on just which technology generation they both represent--4G? 5G? MoreG?
Proponents of WiMAX 2 may instead want to focus on how to make the most of what appears to be a dwindling set of opportunities.