Just as cable TV as a broadband carrier network will never have the ubiquity of DSL for terrestrial broadband, in years to come WiMAX is likely to play second fiddle to LTE. At the moment though it has a good head start on all technologies that might class themselves as 4G.
The news that wireless service provider Clearwire will launch its first 4G wireless network in Europe in Malaga Spain before the month is out illustrates that there is significant milage in WiMAX technology, and Clearwire's Spanish launch is reaching close to 600,000 people- not bad for its first European launch- the company is planning to launch in Seville later in 2010, and aims to become EBITDA positive in just a couple of years. And as Clearwire President Barry West has noted, its Spanish launch gives credibility to investors in WiMAX projects. Clearwire, remember, counts among its investors Intel and Motorola.
With its GSM lineage, there is no doubt that it will be LTE rather than WiMAX that will bring superfast mobile broadband to the masses, but WiMAX has a certain first mover advantage- and its done rather well in its short history: there are now some 500 WiMax deployments worldwide, accounting for in the region of 10 million subscribers. LTE, meanwhile, is just getting going.
As for Clearwire, once it has developed a WiMAX subscriber base that it could migrate onto other technologies if it chose to do so, it may well consider investing in LTE itself- something its CEO has not ruled out.