Is one OFDMA standard possible?

Is one OFDMA standard possible?

The question du jour these days is whether LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology and WiMAX can hold hands and become one standard down the road. I'm sure we'll hear a lot on the subject this week at the CTIA 2008 trade show in Las Vegas.

In a recent interview with FierceWireless, Motorola's Fred Wright, said about 75 percent of the software and hardware that the vendor developed for WiMAX is usable in LTE. "Our demonstration product is basically modified WiMAX gear. We have different application software in the base station control unit. We have changed the over the air signaling protocol and we have an LTE product."

In fact, last week Motorola introduced a common wireless broadband platform capable of supporting both mobile WiMAX access points and the LTE evolved Node-B. Motorola says the design should reduce operators' deployment and operating costs. With Motorola's flexible modem technology, common platform can support either WiMAX or LTE by being software configurable.

Earlier this year, WiMAX semiconductor company picoChip said it was collaborating with mimoOn to deliver the industry's first complete LTE base station reference design. The reference design is supported on the same common hardware platforms as picoChip's WiMAX products. All customers need to do is download a new software code.

I suspect we'll see a host of similar announcements going forward. But is that commonality enough to persuade the powers that be to go forward with one OFDMA standard? As Wright notes, WiMAX was developed in the IEEE and LTE was developed in 3GPP. There's always a lot of political maneuverings in these things and when you have two heavyweights--Ericsson and Qualcomm--that have much lobbying prowess not on the WiMAX bandwagon, you have to wonder. I'm sure, most vendors playing in both would prefer a merger down the road to save on R&D costs.

And could the argument be made that a merger isn't necessary when vendors can leverage at least 75 percent of the hardware and software in both technologies, driving down the economies of scale for both? --Lynnette

P.S. The Fierce editorial team will be bringing you all the news from CTIA Wireless. I'll be there along with Editor-in-Chief Sue Marek and editors Brian Dolan and Jason Ankeny. Click here for the latest news from CTIA.