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WiMAX Lead Over LTE Just a Year?
|20 октября 2008|
Most observers have argued, rightly, that WiMAX networks have a lead over coming Long Term Evolution networks. The issue is how much of a lead WiMAX might have. Last year, the thinking seemed to be that WiMAX had a two-year, or possibly three-year lead in getting commercial service to market.
That lead might now be a year or so, some observers suggest.
Oddly enough, one reason is the success WiMAX operators have had in creating new sources of supply for wireless backhaul. What now likely will happen is that the same sources of backhaul capacity pioneered by WiMAX networks will be used byLTE networks as well.
The other issue is that even 3G networks might not be able to handle the additional load created by millions of new mobile broadband users, necessitating a 4G upgrade to LTE.
"Most operators are reporting six-fold to 14-fold increases in data usage in 2007, while the revenue from data traffic is only growing at 10 percent to 30 percent annually, says Paul Steinberg, chief architect forMotorola’s wireless infrastructure products, according to CommsDay writer Tony Chan.
Steinberg argues a reasonable traffic profile for a mobile user by 2011 will range from 2.7 GBytes of data for typical users with only a mobile phone to 11.1 GBytes of data a month for heavy users accessing the mobile network with both a laptop and handset.
According to several sources, an increasing number of operators are looking to roll out LTE as early as end-2009 in order to mitigate these issues on their existing 3G networks. Steinberg himself estimates six operators are planning to deploy LTE in 2009 while another 10 operators have plans to roll out LTE in 2010.
One of the key advantages of LTE over today’s HSPA networks is performance. Where LTE can provide a three-to-four fold improvement for LTE in a 5 MHz, most LTE will be deployed with 10 MHz or 20 MHz frequency blocks, offering a 30-times improvement for each radio sector.
That's where backhaul really makes a difference. Each LTE base station will require 200 Mbps to 300 Mbps of backhaul capacity, which outpaces most fixed or wireless access technologies out on the market today except fiber or Gigabit Ethernet access.
So operators are now exploring a host of solutions, including high-capacity point-to-point microwave links and signal relays.
The new market factors are that backhaul options are much better and retail demand much stronger than many originally had forecast.
By Gary Kim