CDMA crowd embraces LTE, WiMAX

While it appears Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB), the 4G path developed for the CDMA world, is now dead now that major CDMA operator Verizon Wireless has pledged its allegiance to LTE (Long Term Evolution), the CDMA Development Group has set a new technology-agnostic course for itself. That course involves working closely with LTE technology groups and the WiMAX Forum to ensure CDMA is easily interoperable with these OFDMA-based technologies. In fact, the CDG may be issuing some official announcements pertaining to these agreements, said Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDG.

CDMA-based technologies such as EV-DO Rev. A and beyond will play a critical role for some time to the success of WiMAX and LTE as it will fill in the coverage gaps. CDMA technology will be a vital part of the new Clearwire's strategy for some time as the company, which plans to join forces with Sprint Nextel's WiMAX network later this year, will roll out WiMAX on a market-by-market basis through 2010 and 2011, delivering a reasonable footprint in the majority of the top 200 markets. Verizon won't likely have an aggressive timeframe for LTE ubiquity either.

As LaForge points out, companies like Verizon won't abandon their core networks in the near future. Moreover, and the CDMA crowd will continue working on enhancements to EV-DO, continually increasing capacity and data speeds to become a nice complement to OFDMA networks. EV-DO Rev. B is expected to come to market next year, said Dave Nowicki, vice president of marketing and product management with Airvana. Rev. B takes multiple 1.25-megahertz channels into one super channel, allowing users to share the compounded capacity of the combined spectrum. Vendors expect that a 5-megahertz Rev. B channel will support average downstream rates of 9.3 mbps, representing an improvement over Rev. A by three times.

Meanwhile, despite setbacks in Australia and Latin America, where LaForge admits the CDG didn't keep a close enough eye on, CDMA is growing in key regions such as North America, India, China and Eastern Europe. Making sure the technology continues to stay competitive in the mobile broadband world will ensure CDMA has a future for many years to come.--Lynnette