Wimax players fight back against LTE hype

HSPA is “fake” mobile Internet and Wimax will “beat the pants off LTE” in the long run, said speakers at a Wimax Forum event Tuesday.

“Mobile internet in Japan is fake,” declared Takashi Tanaka, president of Wimax start-up UQ Communications – a consortium led by EV-DO operator KDDI – in his opening keynote at the Wimax Forum Asia conference in Singapore.

“Most mobile users in Japan use mobile internet [HSPA and EV-DO], but complain regularly about speed, the limited browser, limited content, small screen and small keyboard,” he said. “Wimax can meet those needs, so why not deploy it?”

Ali Tabbasi, senior VP for global ecosystem and standards at US-based Clearwire, had even stronger words for LTE, saying it “is not an evolution” for W-CDMA, but the equivalent of W-CDMA hitting a developmental wall.

“Going from W-CDMA to OFDMA is a big leap because you have to build another overlay network that’s all-IP,” Tabbasi said.

Despite the push by rival operator Verizon Wireless to launch LTE next year, Tabbasi also reiterated the time-to-market factor as Wimax’s greatest advantage over LTE.

“The fact of the matter is that Wimax is commercially available and in commercial operation, and LTE isn’t,” he said.

And once Wimax’s next-generation standard, 802.16m, is finalized – ostensibly by the end of this year or early next year – “it’ll beat the pants off LTE,” Tabbasi added to applause.

Garth Collier, managing director for Wimax APAC/Japan for chief Wimax cheerleader Intel also made a point of denouncing LTE in his speech as something worth waiting for.

“Let me be clear on one point – Intel identified OFDMA early on as the way forward, but we are not involved in LTE at all,” he said. “LTE is not set as a standard, so we can’t say yet how it fits into 4G, but Wimax is here and it’s ticking all the boxes we need for success.”

The “boxes” include sufficient bandwidth speeds, an all-IP architecture and plug-and-play devices with simple-set-up that can be sold through mass-market retail outlets.

Wimax Forum president Ron Resnick was more low-key regarding LTE’s recent hype surge, but did say in his opening remarks at the conference that he was unimpressed with HSPA’s progression to 14.4 Mbps speeds and recent HSPA+ launches in Australia and Hong Kong that push access speeds to a purported 21 Mbps.

“HSPA cannot support video for mobile internet,” he said. “Wimax can support it, and video is what we’re betting on as the biggest driver of the internet.”

Resnick also repeated earlier projections that mobile Wimax will hit 133 million users by the time LTE reaches 15 million users.