Intel: 'We're not blinking on Wimax'

LTE looks set to dominate 4G, but Intel said it’s not backing down on Wimax and that it still has a role to play in mobile broadband development.

With most of the world’s cellcos committed to LTE proponents argue that Wimax is a niche player in the 4G story that will never achieve the scale of GSM.

“The answer is not in the technology, but the business model and the economies of scale, and Wimax simply cannot compare to the scales that HSPA has already achieved and will build on with LTE,” said Alan Hadden, president of the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) at the Next Generation Broadband Forum summit at CommunicAsia.

Later in the day on an LTE/Wimax panel, however, Garth Collier, Intel’s Asia/Japan MD for Wimax, said Intel doesn’t expect the world to go fully Wimax, but it will have its place, and Intel will continue to champion it.

“We’re pragmatic about this, of course, but this directive is from the CEO: we’re not blinking on Wimax,” said Collier.

Collier added that Wimax has had its trial by fire over the last few years with standards and rollouts. “A lot of that has been doing what LTE’s going to be doing as well - sorting out standards, testing, network trials and deployments. We’ve gone through that learning curve.”

ABI Research vice president Jake Saunders told Telecoms Asia that Wimax still has a strong pitch to make, especially with greenfield players that would otherwise never get a 3G license.

“They’ve still got about a two-year window to build up a sustainable business case,” he said, though he added that devices will be crucial to that equation.

In the meantime, while Wimax and LTE sport technical similarities on the RAN side with OFDMA, they’re less likely to come together in the core any time so on.

Asked if the industry might see structural separation for Wimax and LTE, with branded RANs connected to a common LTE/SAE core, Collier said the Wimax Forum isn’t really looking at it, and plans to have end-to-end certification for Wimax ready in the next 12 months.

Takehiro Nakamura, director of NTT DoCoMo’s radio system group and chairman of 3GPP TSG-RAN, said that the 3GPP has been discussing interworking between LTE and Wi-Fi, which could also include Wimax.

But, he added, “the status so far is not that good. It could happen in the future but it depends on deployments from operators.”

 

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