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Post on 1.29.11
by Dr. Paul Banes, with Cloud Providers Finders, Randolph, Mass.
The future of the US mobile broadband market is taking
shape right before our very eyes, with both the LTE and WiMAX flavors of 4G wireless data networks promising to deliver the
internet to your mobile phone at speeds that might give your home broadband connection a case of “bandwidth envy.”
But, with heavyweights behind both the LTE and WiMAX 4G technologies battling it out for mind share (that’s
you, dude), it can be hard to grasp to figure out which side of the great wireless Internet divide you should be sitting.
This is where we break down
the pros and cons of each technology to help you decide whether or not to go with WiMAX now or wait for LTE in the near future.
Carriers across the US
and around the world are racing to build the next-generation of data networks to meet ever increasing demand for fast internet
connections available at the press of a button. And, they have something in common – both technologies use the same
fundamental wireless standard – known as OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), which is just a fancy way
to say “taking into samll packets and then data up into little bundles.”
WiMAX, which is available
now, offers peak wireless data speeds of up to 6 Mbps on the downstream and 1 Mbps for sending data upstream. It’s arch-rival,
Long Term Evolution (LTE), can ferry data to you at download speeds of 100 Mbps and support upload speeds of 50 Mbps. That
would make LTE the clear winner. Right? Well, that depends.
If you’re looking
for fast-now mobile broadband service, the WiMAX services currently offered by Clearwire and Sprint are your best (and only)
There are already a handful of WiMAX-capable devices on market that can take advantage of the nascent 4G
tech. You can light up your home or smartphone with blazing fast wireless data today, as in right this moment (as long as
you live in one of the 15 US States where Clearwire has managed to launch their network).
There are also open-standards
issues that make WiMAX more friendly for consumers and carriers alike. Sprint uses Clearwire’s infrastructure for the
Sprint 4G network, so all this applies to Sprint as well.
Go outside, and you get
the arguments for LTE being the standard of choice. Lovers of LTE, such as mobile Pros at many times, will tell you that LTE
has been shown to hit wireless download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. That means you can download about two 5-minute MP3 files
It would only take WiMAX about seven minutes to download a single 5-minute MP3 file, which
is still, good, but it’s nowhere near the theoretical scale of LTE. Also, Verizon, AT&T (although it plans to upgrade
their network to offer 14.4 Mbps speeds first), T-Mobile (although, T-Mobile USA is concentrating on HSPA+ upgrades to deliver
broadband-like speeds), and even MetroPCS have all thrown their gold behind the LTE standard in the US.
It’s a tough choice. We know. But, seeing as how
WiMAX is available now, we’re going to have to give the win to WiMAX
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