While the race toward deployments of next generation wireless technologies speeds up, the competing markets of LTE and WiMax continue to expand – with excessive market momentum shifting toward LTE.
According to Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights analyst Arun Nirmal, it is interesting to assess the technology’s competitive structure in the market.
WiMax has emerged as the sole competitor to LTE in the race toward 4G. However, WiMax operators have been faced with an array of challenges ranging from capital issues to loss in technology hype. The WiMax-based broadband solutions market was a highly dynamic and fluctuating market last year, mainly because of the growing consensus on LTE.
There is, however, one critical benefit of the technology, which is that WiMax networks offer a level of openness that LTE does not.
Frost & Sullivan contends that openness is a crucial aspect of WiMax because such a dynamic ecosystem necessitates high levels of openness that facilitating the merger of business models, introduction of new "killer" applications and entry of new equipment vendors. The industry anticipates that data driven applications and higher traffic volumes will be the main driver for the mobile and wireless industries in the coming years.
In that regard, the recent open source platforms in the Android mobile promoted by Google marks a significant step in the path toward adopting new applications. Apart from this, the introduction of new applications into the handset and networks is expected to increase the number of application vendor-corporate partnerships in this domain.
The quality of openness in WiMax networks clearly aids in the launching of such applications over the next generation infrastructure. Apart from this, operators in the IEEE 802.16e mobile WiMAX segment have a need to decide between two main types of equipment vendors – closed network and open network vendors. Therefore, it becomes essential to truly understand the huge benefits of engulfing the new wave of openness into the networks.
Firstly, when equipment adoption is analysed, open network vendors provide a comfortable business environment with interoperable solutions based on collaborations. This allows seamless integration of their products and other vendor products.
On the other hand, closed network vendors have the need to market in-house solutions and products that are customised to work with internal components. The implementation of closed vendor interfaces hinders the adoption of other feature additions on the WiMax infrastructure.
From a cost perspective, openness gives the advantage of purchasing power to the operator. Since the solutions arise from within an open WiMax consortium, operators can initiate bids for acquiring the cheapest solution, minimising capital expenditure (CAPEX).
At the same time, since the openness enables the operators to repeatedly make architectural changes, operating expenditure (OPEX) issues could also be addressed. Frost & Sullivan believes that this benefit of handing the operator a strong negotiation position in the vendor selection process, means that openness is likely to help WiMax garner significant market momentum in the coming years.
Companies such as France-based Alcatel-Lucent; US-based GCT Semiconductors, and Motorola; China-based Huawei Technologies and ZTE; Japan-based NEC, Canada-based Redline Communications; and Korea-based Samsung have been pushing the openness in WiMax as a critical aspect of the technology. This is forcing service providers to re-align their business and product adoption strategies.
Operators and service providers in this domain have a need to understand that openness does not necessitate multiple interactions with several vendors. Rather, a single system integrator could act as the sole point of contact for implementation aspects.
Openness therefore plays a critical role in establishing WiMax as a leading competitor to LTE in the race towards 4G. Operators in this domain have the crucial aspect of flexibility to consider before new technology adoption. With WiMax offering openness, flexibility and immediacy, service providers and mobile operators have a key decision to make in choosing between LTE and WiMax.