Sprint's CTO attacks LTE

Sprint CTO Barry West went on the offensive against LTE proponents during a keynote at the Wireless Communications Association conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday: "As many of you may know I became a U.S. citizen a few years ago, which has since given me time to think on the events of 1776. I wonder if the founders of this country ever thought: 'To hell with a revolution--what we need is a long term evolution!' Just a thought."

The pugnacious tone seems to be an answer to Vodafone Group CEO and LTE champion Arun Sarin who has given similar keynotes at both the Mobile World Congress and CTIA Wireless shows that belittle WiMAX and offer it a place within the LTE standard.

West admitted he was in "attack-mode" yesterday, but explained that he was "sick and tired of WiMAX being attacked." The WiMAX 802.16e standard was completed in 2005 and now, three years later, WiMAX is launching, while LTE is still in the standards process, West noted.

"We have a significant time to market advantage over LTE and that means competition among the chipset vendors is already good. We have 16d or 16e deployed in some 110 countries." We have 19 companies offering chipset solutions, which is even more than GSM, West said. We have 28 device makers building devices [that will run on a WiMAX networks] and 29 infrastructure vendors, he continued. "All of that leads to aggressive pricing. The world is building WiMAX. It is not going away."

West also addressed some of the comparisons between the spectrum Sprint is using to offer WiMAX services and the recently auctioned off 700 MHz spectrum. "There has been some discussion over which is better: 700 MHz or 2.5 GHz, but I've never met a megahertz I didn't like." Running WiMAX on 2.5 GHz requires Sprint to have north of 20,000 sites, West said, while using 700 MHz would require significantly less. West said that the 700 MHz spectrum, however, cannot handle the capacity that 2.5 GHz can.

"I've heard it said that 700 MHz spectrum is beachfront property, but on the rising tide of demand [Sprint] would much rather be on higher ground" with 2.5 GHz. -Brian

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