Ultrawide-band vs. Bluetooth; Betamax vs. VHS; Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD. All are examples of classic format battles that have resulted in one winner dominating in their respective industries.Recent coverage and a few sensational comments suggest that the next battle in the telecom industry features WiMAX vs. LTE duking it out for the 4G wireless broadband crown. The media love a conflict, that’s what sells papers… uh, I mean, drives click-throughs. So, with the world rapidly moving towards a data-intensive “on-the-go” Internet experience, the question being asked is: “Who will come away with the 4G crown?” With history as our guide, it’s important to note that in the telecommunications industry, there has never been a single global standard. Sure, one may dominate (i.e. GSM), but with LTE and WiMAX, contrary to recent reports, it is still too early to say. If you look at the sheer facts, it is clear that WiMAX is leading this two-horse race. Where is LTE? Currently, there are zero LTE trials. Verizon says they will have two by the end of the year, but as a test network with prototype, non-interoperable equipment. But what if people had a choice? Why does it have to be one or the other? We don’t have to look far to find examples of competing technologies and brands that coexist today — GSM vs. CDMA, Cable vs. DSL, Coke vs. Pepsi, or even, dare I say, Intel vs. AMD. These comparisons are a much better way to approach the two very similar technologies. Especially when operators, deploying both WiMAX and LTE, are expected to offer multi-mode handsets to provide the best of both worlds (i.e. coverage and speed) to their subscribers and companies like Intel (shameless plug) are developing embedded multi-mode solutions as well. This is a classic case of “Competition is good.” It sparks development, drives innovation, and lowers costs. The sooner we move the conversation from an either/or scenario to one of coexistence, the better. A single telecommunications standard is a lose-lose for the industry and we must remember that content, not WiMAX or LTE, is king. As interaction with rich multimedia and social media applications becomes more and more proliferate and users become more mobile, the demand for seamless high-speed Internet access on the go will increase as well. There will in fact be a winner… the consumer.
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