Reports on the death of WiMAX greatly exaggerated?

As the dust settles on anther Mobile World Congress (MWC) , it’s worth taking time out and getting some perspective on what all of the hundreds of products announcements mean for the IT professional.


This year’s show, more than ever, proved that there are very few IT applications that can’t be used on mobile computing platforms. Given the appropriate mobile broadband networks that is.


And some of the most interesting debates and announcement at the show centred on the future of mobile broadband, more specifically the apparent dichotomy that exists between Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX as the likely standard for mobile broadband.


It would appear from the show that LTE is very much in the ascendancy, but it may well be a little premature to write off WiMAX right now. Or make any substantive prediction about the future.

That’s not to say that all is rosy in the WiMAX garden . In December 2008, Richard Webb, wireless analyst for Infonetics Research commented, “With less cash available for network rollout, and possibly less spectrum being auctioned until the current financial crisis passes, WiMAX deployment will be inhibited for the next 12 months.” Infonetics however, predicted revenue growth to return to the overall WiMAX market in 2010, with growth being driven by mobile WiMAX.


But it can’t be denied that LTE shone at MWC and there were a raft of LTE-themed announcements.


One that stood out was by Verizon Wireless , Dick Lynch who announced  plans to build America’s first next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) network sometime in 2010 . That Verizon had opted for LTE is nothing new, the company had decided to go down the LTE route in November 2007. However, it now could reveal who its partners would be to realise this plan, namely Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent who will act as primary network vendors for its initial LTE network deployments in the United States.


Yet even though Ericsson nailed its LTE colours to the mast long ago, the same cannot be said for Alcatel-Lucent who is firmly hedging its bets on the future direction of mobile broadband.


Indeed at the show, announced that it had received the WiMAX Forum Certified seal of approval for the 3.5 GHz band version of its WiMAX Rev-e compact base station in recognition of the high quality and reliability of the company’s WiMAX equipment.


Moreover, in a statement, Alcatel-Lucent went s far as to say that the certification ‘reinforces Alcatel-Lucent’s leadership position in WiMAX globally’. And in announcing a customer win with Cambodian operator Chuan Wei Mike Iandolo, President of Alcatel-Lucent’s Wireless networks said the deal “highlights Alcatel-Lucent’s refocused strategy to WiMAX as the wireless-broadband solution for fixed, nomadic and data-centric mobility needs.”


In fairness, at MWC Alcatel-Lucent  also launched a software module that enables service providers to expand the capabilities of their networks through the introduction of LTE,  but it can’t deny having a foot firmly in both camps.


That’s a hefty hedge. And one that suggest that WiMAX can’t be counted out just yet, if not at all.