Print 13 comment(s) - last by Klober.. on Mar 11 at 2:44 PM

Nokia says WiMAX is a niche play

Competition in the technology industry is fierce and often the winner gets to set the de facto standard that ultimately kills the rival. This is what happened in the Betamax vs. VHS war, then in the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD fight, and now the same thing is set to happen in the WiMAX vs. LTE battle.

The sole major mobile service provider betting big on WiMAX in the U.S. is Sprint. The poor performance of Sprint as a whole has threatened to kill off its WiMAX offering on more than one occasion and ultimately Sprint gave its WiMAX IP and hopes to a new company called Clearwire. Sprint previously predicted that its WiMAX services would be used by 100 million customers by 2008.

So far, Sprint hasn’t even come close to that number with only two functional networks in the entire country up and running at this time in Portland and Baltimore. Other mobile service providers including AT&T and Verizon are betting big on LTE as the network standard for 4G and more and more handset makers and infrastructure companies are starting to back LTE to the detriment of WiMAX.

Nokia announced that it will be supporting LTE alone in its 4G technology roadmaps. This comes as no real surprise after Nokia cancelled its WiMAX N810 Internet Tablet. Nokia says that it plans to begin offering LTE 4G devices, most likely by 2010. One of the LTE devices could be a netbook with integrated 4G connectivity; Nokia's CEO said in February that the company was considering entry into the netbook market.

Verizon Wireless says that it has been field testing LTE 4G networks in northern New Jersey and Columbus, Ohio and that in testing downloads have hit peak speeds of 50Mbps to 60Mbps. However, Verizon stresses that the official speeds for the network won’t be announced until closer to the launch of the service.

Sprint and Clearwire still maintain that the first to market advantage of WiMAX gives them an edge, but it is hard to see any edge when there are only two networks operating and handset makers are pledging support to rival technology.

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this is terrible news
By inperfectdarkness on 3/9/2009 9:08:50 AM , Rating: 2
and that's all i have to say about that.

RE: this is terrible news
By inperfectdarkness on 3/9/2009 9:13:52 AM , Rating: 2 that's NOT all i have to say. everything i've ready about Wi-MAX and 3g/4g makes Wi-MAX sound far superior.

this smacks of betamax losing to VHS.

RE: this is terrible news
By AlexWade on 3/9/2009 9:29:28 AM , Rating: 2
I tend to think WiMax would succeed if not for the stupidity of Sprint. Having dealt with Sprint's cell phone and customer service, I can tell you that they are beyond incompetent. Before you move to 2G or 3G or 4G, you need to get 1G right first. In other words, if you are having trouble with the older technology, why would you have success with newer technology?

RE: this is terrible news
By Klober on 3/11/2009 2:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
Let's address some things here...

First of all, XOHM, the company Sprint set up to handle WiMAX, was never directly run by the same crew as Sprint core services. Second, it has been run completely different from Sprint so they wouldn't commit the same mistakes in company-to-customer interaction. Third, it is no longer run by Sprint in any way, it is now run by Clearwire (and has been for several months now, ever since the merger was approved). Whatever anyone's problems with Sprint (and their services) may be, those problems should not carry over to the service that XOHM provides.

To clarify a mistake in the article - the 2 networks are not Sprint. The Baltimore network is XOHM, and the Portland network is Clearwire. They are currently not compatible (but will be relatively soon). Sprint is not in the business of WiMAX, they do phone service. Even before XOHM was released to the public it was not associated with Sprint. This was pounded into the heads of their support staff all throughout their training - "We are not Sprint and we want our customers to realize the difference through our actions. We are XOHM and proud of it."

Just wanted to clarify some common misconceptions. :)

RE: this is terrible news
By mcnabney on 3/9/2009 9:54:17 AM , Rating: 2
Have you not considered the benefit of killing-off one of the standards before any consumers get suckered into buying the next Betamax or HD-DVD? The writing on the wall was quite clear. LTE was already the defacto next step in Europe and Asia. Choosing WiMax would only doom the US to more outdated handsets and devices. And besides, only a fool would want Sprint to be their standardbearer.

RE: this is terrible news
By Shadowself on 3/9/2009 10:15:53 AM , Rating: 4
WiMax has significant issues if the differential speed is greater than about 30 MPH. It's not a doppler issue, but rather a doppler spread issue. And no, even the "mobile" version of WiMax does not solve this issue.

RE: this is terrible news
By aapocketz on 3/9/2009 12:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
I have checked out the wimax around baltimore, its very fast, I did a few speedtests, its near or exceeds the speed of the entry level FIOS service, and for about the same price ($50) you can connect a mobile USB dongle AND a home wireless modem. Seemed pretty reliable when I tested it. The coverage isn't great yet though, I would like it if it worked in other nearby cities like annapolis, Washington DC, Philly.

WiMax has significant issues if the differential speed is greater than about 30 MPH. It's not a doppler issue, but rather a doppler spread issue. And no, even the "mobile" version of WiMax does not solve this issue.

"differential speed" and "Doppler spread"? sounds like you mean acceleration. Are you going to tell me its "chirping" the signal next? 30 MPH is a measure of velocity, not acceleration. I could use more explanation of what you are talking about. OFDM can be sensitive to acceleration, but it still streams video from a moving vehicle at highway speeds. How well do competing technologies perform?

RE: this is terrible news
By aapocketz on 3/9/09, Rating: -1
RE: this is terrible news
By aapocketz on 3/9/2009 1:03:35 PM , Rating: 3

works in moving vehicles, though you do take a speed hit. This can be overcome by a better receiver design, without fundamentally changing wimax.

LTE is also an OFDM system, and they have had to overcome this issue as well.

RE: this is terrible news
By kknd1967 on 3/9/2009 12:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
I hope you know what you are talking about when you start using technical terms. Ranging is an operation to correct Doppler spread and I don't know how you could claim "Mobile WiMAX does not solve it". And meanwhile my Moto USB works on a car from 0~60mph in Clearwire WiMAX Network on the west coast.

RE: this is terrible news
By kknd1967 on 3/9/2009 12:37:07 PM , Rating: 1
yes bad news in many aspects.
For WiMAX it is mainly a bad PR as this is expected. But in the US, when did I really pay any attention to a Nokia phone? Almost never.

For Nokia, this means they are not competitive enough in WiMAX world to sustain their high IPR business as they did in 3G. This also means cellular vendors will realize their device is not fast enough to take advantage of tens of Mbps from 4G network while maintainig enough battery running time, where netbook and laptops are clearly suitable. Even Verizon's LTE initially is shooting for x86 users as seen from their CEO's annoucement.

By Screwballl on 3/9/2009 2:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
Sprint is crap but Clearwire will certainly be able to use this as part of their broadband offering... but they need to take it away from Sprint and make deals with all the cell phone providers to offer it in more areas or as an addition to their existing broadband service across the US.

By MadMan007 on 3/9/2009 2:33:32 PM , Rating: 2
While I'd love to see the more technicially proficient standard win, not having a format war would be a win too. Wireless 4G will hopefully break the landline oligopolies, or make them stop their foot-dragging on various matters. I only hope that it will bring real competition to end-users and not just end up going back to the old ways like the last telecom deregulations.

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