WiMAX Forum confident in the face of operators' LTE flirtations

The WiMAX Forum is charging ahead with its plans for a new standard despite operators' decisions--including Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR)--to experiment more with LTE.

In an interview with Network World, Declan Byrne, the marketing director for the WiMAX Forum, said the industry group was "surprised" by Clearwire's announcement last week that it will test LTE this fall in Phoenix. Clearwire has been one of the WiMAX community's most stalwart supporters. Nevertheless, Byrne said he is confident Clearwire still supports WiMAX, and that the carrier's spectrum position means it will be able to support both technologies.

"We don't think it would be detrimental if Clearwire decided to run both WiMAX and LTE," he said. "In some ways it might be positive for both WiMAX and LTE because it would take some of the sting out of the 'either-or' dynamic that a lot of people have been setting up when talking about the two technologies."

Clearwire itself seemed to make this point when it announced its plans for the tests. "In a 4G world, wireless coverage is important, but capacity is king," Clearwire CTO John Saw said at the time. "This capacity is a unique and sustainable advantage for Clearwire, thanks to our all-IP network and unmatched spectrum holdings."

Russian WiMAX operator Yota also has announced plans to deploy LTE instead of WiMAX in 15 Russian cities by the end of 2011, but has since run into regulatory hurdles. 

Meanwhile, the WiMAX Forum still expects its next-generation WiMAX standard--802.16m, which is being marketed as WiMAX 2--to be finalized this November, with device certification coming next year. Byrne said he expects operators to begin commercial WiMAX 2 deployments in 2012, which will come just as carriers are ramping up their LTE deployments. Earlier this spring, the WiMAX Forum announced a new retail plan aimed at expanding the number of WiMAX devices worldwide and reducing internal operator testing costs.

For more:
- see this Network World article

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