Vodafone CEO: WiMAX has a home in LTE

Vodafone Group CEO Arun Sarin argued that the wireless industry need about one-sixth of the number of operating systems out there in the market and that WiMAX could find a place within the LTE standard. The executive made the provocative marks during the opening keynote earlier this week at the GSMA's Mobile World Congress.

"We have to narrow the range of operating systems," Sarin said. "We have 30 or 40 operating systems right now, if we had three or five operating systems, then that would be a good thing. Let the marketplace decide whether its Symbian, Microsoft, Android, LiMo or Linux 3.0 or whatever it is," Sarin said. "But we cannot have 30 of these."

Sarin also gave some advice to carriers: Don't buy phones that will have unsupported operating systems in five years. "There will be that phone manufacturer who says 'I can provide this for you and I can provide a little bit of differentiation with our operating system,' but in the near term, it is seductive to go down that path because you will win in the short term. When you win in the near term, you lose in the long term because you are stuck and cannot go with innovations."

Last year Sarin gave a keynote that urged the GSM community to push the LTE standard along since WiMAX was way ahead in its development, but Sarin seems pleased with progress in mobile broadband regardless.

"I think LTE has made real improvements in the last twelve months, and I would say WiMAX has made some progress as well," Sarin admitted. "The issue for me is simply resources in our industry: We only have a finite number of R&D engineers and we split them into three camps, then we would be diluting what we can do in the future. LTE standard is an encompassing standard, an accommodating standard--and as I said a few moments ago--there is a TDD section that I think WiMAX could fit into." -Brian