Ramprakash Alluri, business development director of the South Asia devision of Intel’s Wireless Program Office, gave the good news for WiMax supporters at the CommunicAsia 2010 conference in Singapore. He said that the 588 WiMax service providers, over 20 infrastructure suppliers, and 90 device/client developers throughout the world are going strong and growing.
Alluri also said that WiMax gives better wireless data performance than 3G, often for a lower monthly price, and that a series of updates over the next few years will give it the edge over bitter rival LTE. Expected updates include 802.16e later this year and 802.16m by 2013. This latter update has been dubbed “WiMax 2” and some people believe it may even be available as early as 2011.
If the WiMax sequel does get released that early it will be the first fully-functioning 4G technology according to the ITU and IMT Advanced standards, as opposed to the current WiMax, which is a kind of proto-4G, similar to the proto-4G LTE technology. By that stage, however, a proper 4G LTE may also be available, continuing the long-standing feud between the two.
Intel has supported WiMax from the outset, and while the technology is still in its infacy pressure from the likes of China Mobile, a staunch supporter of LTE, has caused questions to be asked about the long-term viability of WiMax. Intel has pumped billions of dollars into WiMax and is keen to dispel any rumours of its inevitable demise, even though a number of other telecommunications companies around the world are shaking hands with LTE.
Alluri dismissed the idea that WiMax is losing support. He said that while LTE maybe has proof of concept, it cannot deliver 30,000 base stations next year. He said it would the new-comer at least three years to catch up with WiMax, and for now “it is only WiMax”.
Despite Intel’s firm support of WiMax, it failed to rally behind it during the Indian BWA auction, citing the economic downturn as the reason it did not put cash on the table to fight LTE supporter Qualcomm. Now that things are picking up, however, it may be prepared to invest further to ensure a technology it has already paid a lot of money for gets the necessary support from telecommunications companies around the world.