LTE vs WiMAX? Will consumers care about these TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) as they decide on a next generation wireless access plan. If today is any indication, the battle among next generation wireless networks for consumer mind share is heating up and we may find out the answer to this question in 2011.
The new Verizon video (below) is interesting as it talks about the attributes of their "4G" network (granted, it isn't 4G by standards definition, as pointed out by Alan Weissberger in previous articles), including:
- Low latency (30 ms)
- 700 MHz transmission, allowing greater reach and deeper penetration into buildings than higher frequencies
The video is enlightening in that it brings to life the various applications that 4G proponents have been touting for so long. The representative from Nvidia points out that low latency will mean a better gaming experience.
Another message from the video is that the Verizon network will serve as a viable competitor to land line networks in those areas where Verizon doesn't have a physical infrastructure. In one sense, Verizon's primary target is probably the cable and incumbent LECs, as opposed to Clearwire and its WiMAX-based network.
With its cable partnerships, Clearwire is still part of that target. In a comparison matrix (see below) that Clearwire’s press representative sent today, they spell out the distinctions between their service and Verizon’s offering. One of the benefits they tout is the multiple brands that are marketing their service, including Sprint, Time-Warner and Comcast.
As Alan Weissberger pointed out in a conversation earlier today, bit rates and latency between LTE and WiMAX are going to be secondary to consumers in their purchasing decision, as both networks offer a huge improvement over existing wireless alternatives. Parameters, such as coverage area, the availability of devices, the viability of the provider and pricing, may be more important in a consumer’s purchasing decision. Weissberger points out that Clearwire has a bit of a head start in terms of device availability (as evidenced by a WiMAX-enabled laptop advertised in today’s San Jose Mercury). In other words, overall value will be an important factor in the consumer’s decision.
Of course, don't count out T-Mobile, with its HPSA+ network, MetroPCS with its LTE buildout, AT&T, etc, as it is early in the race for broad adoption of these next generation wireless networks. The real determinant of which wireless entities dominate may be a factor of who has a better marketing approach and ecosystem program. Given how the folks on Infinite Loop seem to turn everything to consumer-gold and create a halo-effect for the service provider, the next generation broadband wireless winner may be that network that is first to integrate with products from Apple.
Clearwire vs. Verizon (matrix courtesy of Clearwire) – Click here to open in a new window