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[INFO] WiMax vs. LTE

Which one? (read the article before you choose)

  • WiMax

    Votes: 67 58.8%
  • LTE

    Votes: 47 41.2%

  • Total voters
    114
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Geniusdog254

Retired Recognized Developer
Jan 2, 2009
1,110
169
St. Louis
First, this isn't one of "those" threads that just talks about "OMGZ WiMax is so much betterz kthx" it's a technical discussion, so be prepared for lots of technical jargon.

I don't really know where to start, so lets just dive right in:

Clear & Sprint - Bandwidth & an Open Relationship:
Even if LTE does end up winning in the global market, Sprint & Clear (from here on out, if I mention one, assume the other is mentioned too) can easily switch. Their 2.5Ghz spectrum is widely used worldwide for both LTE & WiMax, so not only can they easily switch in software, they will have better global roaming potential than the other big carriers here in the USA that are using 700Mhz spectrum for there nets.

Clear is running tests this year in both TD-LTE and FDD-LTE. They are clearly shaping up to be one hell of a 4G provider, and even a backbone provider with their large WiMax buildout so far done. (WiMax is a nearly perfect technology for wireless backhaul, in case you didn't know)

Also, Sprint has MASSIVE spectrum holdings in the 2.5Ghz channels, so that gives them many more advantages that I'll get into later.

Frequency, frequency, frequency!
I cannot stress how important this is! Everyone is saying how much better LTE is than WiMax because of its better building penetration & lower build out costs. Being on 700Mhz here in the USA, it will require ~1/4th of the equipment vs WiMax to get the same coverage area & building penetration.

Thats fine & dandy, until you talk global roaming. See, in the EU, LTE is actually slated for the 2.6Ghz channel, and WiMax is still on 2.5Ghz. So here in the USA, LTE probably does have an advantage coverage & cost wise to carriers, but it also hamstrings them in multiple ways. In Europe, with it on the 2.6 channel it will actually be on par if not slightly worse than WiMax coverage & penetration wise. It will also cost about the same to roll out.

Roaming:
Obviously being on 700Mhz here in the USA, people will be able to roam between Verizon & AT&T, and anyone else on that channel. The problems come when you go overseas. As mentioned above, in Europe LTE is on a completely different freq than here, so global roaming without multi-band radios is pretty much out. This increases cost for devices.

Clear will be using 2.5Ghz spectrum for LTE (should they switch) so they should be able to roam globally, although they may not. This is a HUGE advantage.

Size DOES matter!
No, you pervs, not like that. :p

Because of the vast spectrum that Sprint holds, they can take advantage of it and provide much higher throughput over the same technology. While VZW & AT&T are limited spectrum wise because of using 700, Sprint isn't. Most LTE carriers in the US can only offer 10Mhz channels for upload & download. This leads to the weak (relatively) speeds of 5-12Mbps down Verizon is promising at launch.

On the other hand, Clear can take advantage of all that spectrum & offer channels of anywhere from 20-40Mhz Actually, they are using paired 20Mhz channels for a total of 40Mhz throughput per connection on LTE, providing FOUR TIMES the throughput of other networks. That's how they can promise speeds of 20-70Mbps downlink. Chalk another one up for Clear.

Is It True 4G?
It depends. LTE is a true 4G standard no matter how you slice it.

WiMax-16e is what Clear currently has rolled out. It is NOT true 4G. It has most of the qualifications (full IP backbone network, etc) but it doesn't meet speed requirements. Fixed you have to (theoretically) be able to provide 1Gbps downlink & 100Mbps mobile to qualify as 4G. LTE (if you use the right frequencies & have the spectrum to provide wide enough channels) can do that. 16e can't. Enough said.

BUT! WiMax-16m (WiMax2, as it's been branded) is a true 4G standard. It was finalized as a standard this summer, and equipment providers (Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, etc) are expected to be able to provide backend gear for it by early next year & user devices by the end of next year. This is where WiMax really can compete with LTE. Think of the WiMax to WiMax2 upgrade as the HSPA to HSPA+ rollouts going on on T-Mobile & Bell/Rogers in Canada. Another plus for WiMax 2 (16m) is that it is completely backward compatible with WiMax (16e), again just like HSPA devices are compatible with HSPA+ networks.

Other Advantages:
LTE does offer a standardized voice transmission method, whereas WiMax (2) doesn't. This is a big thing for carriers, and I'm not going to say it doesn't matter, because it does. Sprint & any other WiMax provider worldwide will have to maintain their GSM or CDMA2000 networks to keep providing voice. That also means that mobile devices will have to provide dual-mode CDMA/WiMax or GSM/WiMax chips to stay connected. This could change. They could implement it down the road, but in its current state, WiMax can't do it. OTOH, EvDo devices also have to be dual mode, since the EvDo standard that CDMA carriers chose couldn't do voice, whereas different techs (such as EvDv from Qualcomm) could do both. So it's not really new to many of them, just something to consider.

Wrapup (my opinion):
Both are great technologies if done right. Right now, WiMax has the advantage because its more rolled out & it has the spectrum available to operators to provide higher speeds. That could easily change in the future, especially if more telcos can provide larger channels for LTE to reach its full speeds. WiMax 2 could also be a game changer in the industry.

In all actuality, the technologies are almost identical. It isn't like HD-DVD vs BluRay, where there was a clearcut winner. There won't be that here, both are excellent technologies & will continue to coexist. Much like Cable vs. DSL in the landline world. WiMax offers great technology as wireless backhaul & last mile delivery for rural broadband, but is also becoming a good access technology for 4G wireless. LTE was designed by carriers & for carriers as the natural progression to HSPA to carry voice as well as data. It is an access network at heart. WiMax is more flexible, it can do access or backhaul. It really comes down to carrier choice & what freqs they have available to them.

Hope this helps clear some stuff up. I've seen a lot of uneducated posts about this & it really annoys me.

EDIT - More info:
Topography is another huge factor. For some markets LTE will be a better choice, and for others WiMax will. Again it comes down to what freqs the telcos have available to deploy on.

Also, I forgot to clarify a couple more things about Clear's LTE trials. I mentioned that they were using TD-LTE & FDD-LTE (a good article on them here). A key difference is that TD is able to be used on the same unpaired freqs as WiMax is, so where carriers that only had access to the unpaired freqs before had to go with WiMax can now go with a variation of LTE (although still not the same as the normal carriers). FDD is what most telcos already have access to today, so they are building on it. Clear has both. Another win. Clear's TD-LTE trials are using paired 10Mhz channels for a total of 20Mhz, which will provide speeds potentially faster than WiMax but slower than FDD-LTE. Their FDD-LTE trials will be using paired 20Mhz channels for 40Mhz total.

Several more good articles on the subject here, here, and here.

WiMax is currently seen as the predominant tech of choice in India because of the abundance of unpaired spectrum available there. Good articles on that here & here. Intel is a huge backer of WiMax in India as well as the US, and are offering SoC's & laptop chipsets with WiMax integrated. They are also offering standalone Mini-PCIe WiMax cards. See more info on big WiMax players in the WiMax Forum group.

I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible here & give the (dis)advantages of both techs here. There are links in defense of both techs above, and I'm not a "fanboy" for either one.
 
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afazel

Senior Member
Dec 17, 2009
446
48
WiMax carriers wouldn't necessarily have to carry dual-mode for voice. Why couldn't they just use a VoIP technology? Latency on WiMax in good coverage is low enough to sustain a stable and high-quality VoIP call. Even SIP traffic through a carrier-specific VPN tunnel would probably be sufficient to handle any voice demand.
 

Geniusdog254

Retired Recognized Developer
Jan 2, 2009
1,110
169
St. Louis
WiMax carriers wouldn't necessarily have to carry dual-mode for voice. Why couldn't they just use a VoIP technology? Latency on WiMax in good coverage is low enough to sustain a stable and high-quality VoIP call. Even SIP traffic through a carrier-specific VPN tunnel would probably be sufficient to handle any voice demand.

That's true, but like I said, there's no STANDARD for voice on WiMax. Carriers can implement their own, but it could vary between networks. As far as the IEEE standards are concerned there is no voice. On the other hand, LTE has a standard across networks.
 

Aridon

Senior Member
May 14, 2007
1,299
271
Spectrum doesn't mean **** if you can't get connected inside. Many, many places this will be a huge issue. Even if you can get connected the signal loss will hamper bandwidth so again whats the point?

LTE is going to be the clear winner. Clear will eventually switch and the only losers will be handsets like the EVO and Eipc for anyone that is still using them with 4g in mind because inside of a couple of years I doubt they will continue to work (4g).
 

Geniusdog254

Retired Recognized Developer
Jan 2, 2009
1,110
169
St. Louis
Spectrum doesn't mean **** if you can't get connected inside. Many, many places this will be a huge issue. Even if you can get connected the signal loss will hamper bandwidth so again whats the point?

LTE is going to be the clear winner. Clear will eventually switch and the only losers will be handsets like the EVO and Eipc for anyone that is still using them with 4g in mind because inside of a couple of years I doubt they will continue to work (4g).

Youre spectrum point is only valid in the US since in other regions LTE is on a higher freq. Plus my spectrum points were all about LTE. WiMax is currently using 10Mhz channels too. I was saying that Clear's FDD-LTE trials will use 40Mhz channels. Their TD-LTE trials will be using paired 10Mhz channels for 20Mhz total.

Also, if Sprint builds the network properly (ie densely enough) then you won't have connection problems. That's the catch here in the US & why LTE will win here, but in other regions its still a fair fight.
 

edtate

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2010
422
3
Tempe,AZ
While it's nice knowing our phones are just that little bit more "future proof",by the time any carrier has respectable lte /wimax2 networks, the majority of us would have already been upgraded to the next big thing which would have those capabilities out of the box.
 

cLOUDFAn

Senior Member
Dec 16, 2007
67
2
NYC
from what i remember
almost all the carriers in the world (80+%) are planning to use LTE
sprint seems like the only major one that uses wimax (and planning to convert to LTE )
 

Geniusdog254

Retired Recognized Developer
Jan 2, 2009
1,110
169
St. Louis
from what i remember
almost all the carriers in the world (80+%) are planning to use LTE
sprint seems like the only major one that uses wimax (and planning to convert to LTE )

Actually Yota in Russia is a major WiMax/GSM carrier & several telcos in Japan (can't remember names) are both behind WiMax. There are also several in India, which is one of the larger markets in the world.

Both will coexist happily I think. A major part of Clear's LTE trials this year are to test performance of providing both LTE & WiMax over the same channel. Another thing to consider is topography. I don't remember where I saw it but I saw a graphic that showed the range of 2.5 WiMax vs 700 LTE. Obviously the LTE provided better range, but depending on the topography WiMax can be a better option because it provides better service in dense urban areas if the network is planned right (less than 15dBm of loss from structures is a good level, 19 or 20 is the norm)
 
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crakerjaks

Senior Member
Jul 19, 2010
204
1
wimax in ugunda as well cool story, anyways I have a Q, the dual voice data thing, are you saying wimax wont support making calls and surfing net at the same time in the future and LTE will?
 

Geniusdog254

Retired Recognized Developer
Jan 2, 2009
1,110
169
St. Louis
wimax in ugunda as well cool story, anyways I have a Q, the dual voice data thing, are you saying wimax wont support making calls and surfing net at the same time in the future and LTE will?

No, WiMax & LTE both support simultaneous voice & data. LTE supports it the right way, just like WCDMA/HSPA support it now.

WiMax supports it but only because it requires a dual mode radio (one for voice/EvDo, one for WiMax)

What I said means that if you have JUST an LTE connection (IE no 2G/3G/etc fallback network at all) you can make a phone call. If you have JUST a WiMax connection with no fallback network you can't make a call.

IE: WiMax is currently a data only network, like when T-Mobile launched their 3G network there was no voice coverage. Sprint could add it down the road (and probably will, if they don't switch to LTE) by using as the other poster said one of several possible VoIP options to deliver calls. LTE also uses VoIP as their call standard, since its a completely IP based backbone network like WiMax.
 

pflatlyne

Senior Member
Apr 24, 2007
256
19
Spectrum doesn't mean **** if you can't get connected inside. Many, many places this will be a huge issue. Even if you can get connected the signal loss will hamper bandwidth so again whats the point?

LTE is going to be the clear winner. Clear will eventually switch and the only losers will be handsets like the EVO and Eipc for anyone that is still using them with 4g in mind because inside of a couple of years I doubt they will continue to work (4g).

Thats true. Wimax has rolled out in Salt Lake City and its pretty much useless. It works on the main streets but as soon as you go off those,it fades fast. Inside buildings,you can rarely get a signal. It may get better,but right now the line of sight characteristics of the 2.5ghz signals are really a problem and Im not yet convinced that they can put in enough towers to overcome it.
 

werxen

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2010
215
0
Great post so far - enjoying it very much.

What are your thoughts on the current Sprint WiMAX? Do you guys think the cities that are live will be kept the way they are? I remember reading somewhere when most cities are live Sprint will go back and improve the older cities so people can get more of a consistent signal. Its not WiMAX perse, its Sprint ATM.
 

Award Tour

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2010
1,966
86
Brooklyn
Anybody know the energy efficiency (on the users end) of LTE, WiMax, and even HSPA+? WiMax is great even in it's US infancy, ~100 ping + 6-10Mbps down for me, but it's so much more energy inefficient compared to 3G that it's only something that I turn on if I want to tether and can connect my EVO to a power source.

Now compare that to the iPhone 4 which I also have. I don't think it's a HSPA+ phone but it can still take advantage (albeit not fully) of it if the signal is there. So I end up getting around the same ping and 4 Mbps and change on the down link. Now the thing that interests me the most is that it doesn't seem to effect the battery life as much if at all. So I actually get to enjoy the increased speed. Of course, I don't know by how much, if at all, this is effected if the phone is HSPA+ capable (20Mps+).

I know WiMax is very similar to WiFi, and we all know that WiFi is a lot nicer to the battery than 3G. So is WiMax's battery hogging maybe related to the poor coverage and can possibly be significantly improved when there's more coverage? Is anybody really, really near a tower and feel a difference?

What about LTE? Anybody from Sweden (or any other place that has LTE rolled out) here?

Edit: Now that I think of it, wouldn't LTE be better in this regard since it only has to power one radio for both voice/data?
 
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werxen

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2010
215
0
Anybody know the energy efficiency (on the users end) of LTE, WiMax, and even HSPA+? WiMax is great even in it's US infancy, ~100 ping + 6-10Mbps down for me, but it's so much more energy inefficient compared to 3G that it's only something that I turn on if I want to tether and can connect my EVO to a power source.

Now compare that to the iPhone 4 which I also have. I don't think it's a HSPA+ phone but it can still take advantage (albeit not fully) of it if the signal is there. So I end up getting around the same ping and 4 Mbps and change on the down link. Now the thing that interests me the most is that it doesn't seem to effect the battery life as much if at all. So I actually get to enjoy the increased speed. Of course, I don't know by how much, if at all, this is effected if the phone is HSPA+ capable (20Mps+).

I know WiMax is very similar to WiFi, and we all know that WiFi is a lot nicer to the battery than 3G. So is WiMax's battery hogging maybe related to the poor coverage and can possibly be significantly improved when there's more coverage? Is anybody really, really near a tower and feel a difference?

What about LTE? Anybody from Sweden (or any other place that has LTE rolled out) here?

Edit: Now that I think of it, wouldn't LTE be better in this regard since it only has to power one radio for both voice/data?

Its the phone not the network, really. ****ty battery life only gets ****tier when you are searching for a weak signal.
 

benoitb85

Senior Member
Nov 4, 2007
325
28
Bacon le Gruyère
In Europe at least, LTE is pushed by a much stronger lobby and will be THE 4G standard.

It's already being deployed in Japan as well and will be in the USA. I think this is the next worldwide standard, so the prices will go down and that will leave only minor networks to Wimax as a mobility technology.

Wimax is already used in some places as a fixed internet acces (no mobility, only fixed wireless).

In France, I don't see LTE happening before 2013 because there have been many investments in the WCDMA networks so they will use HSPA+ to push and perfect the 3G network before eventually switching to LTE.
 
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Fightspit

Senior Member
May 13, 2010
1,060
338
Paris
I found in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) website a diagram about different telecom generations:

image002.jpg


From: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/imt-2000/Revised_JV/IntroducingIMT_item3.html

So the WiMAX IEEE 802.16e (and f) and LTE (3GPP Release 9) can be considered as "3.9G".
The ITU has selected two technologies for the 4G (IMT-Advanced) which are the WiMAX IEEE 802.16m and LTE-Advanced (3GPP Release 10) [url=http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/archive/27_series/27.007/27007-a00.zip](1st Rev. zip file)[/url].

I would add also that Qualcomm who is the inventor of the CDMA technology may prefer LTE-Advanced (3GPP Release 10) over WiMAX IEEE 802.16m.
Here, a pdf presentation about the benefits of the LTE-Advanced from his website:
http://www.qualcomm.de/documents/files/lte-advanced-benefits.pdf

More info about the 4G (IMT-Advanced):
http://www.itu.int/itunews/manager/display.asp?lang=en&year=2008&issue=10&ipage=39&ext=html
 
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