WiMax or LTE are not 4G

The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has ruled that neither WiMax nor LTE are real 4G telephone technologies.

This will be news to countless telcos which are trying to flog the new technologies as the next big thing. However the ITU-R said that it had had finished its assessment of submissions for the 4G standard, also called IMT-Advanced, and neither WiMax or LTE were up to scratch.

If they really wanted to sell 4G, carriers will have to flog something like LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The latter is already slated to be under the bonnet of WiMax Release 2.

It is starting to look like the carriers are going to ignore the ITU-R completely and attempt to flog WiMax or LTE as 4G.

In the US, Clearwire claims that the 4G label denotes “an advancement beyond 3G networks”. Clearwire spokesman Mike DiGioia said. “WiMax, and the LTE products that are coming out, are all sufficiently advanced past the 3G networks to indicate that they’re moving forward.”

Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told InfoWorld that the ITU’s current technical definition in no way affects our plans to launch the world’s first large-scale LTE network later this year.

He claimed it was all about “real people using actual products and services.” So in other words it does not matter what engineers say, if people think it’s 4G then it “is” 4G.

It is a little ironic because much internet bandwidth has been wasted on who has the right to carry the 4G label. Those cheering for either WiMax and LTE have both claimed only their favourite standard is truly 4G. The ITU ruling means that neither are.

Neither of the real 4G standards have been ratified yet. They might be a couple of years off. First off the block will be the LTE-Advanced which might be cleared by the end of the year. WiMax Release 2 specification should be out in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Carriers probably won’t run the real next-generation technologies until 2014 or 2015. It might be a little late to call it fourth-generation by then.