Is the future of mobile broadband technology too confusing a world to be understood by the average Joe? Or is there hope for those of us who aren’t quite yet world class engineers or technology geeks to understand where we’re headed? If you’ve heard terminology thrown around such as WiMax, LTE, and, of course, the ever-heralded 4G, but haven’t quite been able to put your thumb on what it all means, this article is for you.
LTE Vs. WiMAX: The 4G Wireless Broadband War Explained
The bare bones truth of the matter is that 4G technology doesn’t actually quite exist yet. Although WiMax and LTE are both being promoted as the two major contestants in the next-generation 4G ring, this notion is currently nothing more than a hyped up marketing strategy.
True, WiMax and LTE are both fighting it out for the future of mobile broadband technology, but neither of them has quite attained 4G status yet. In order to be able to claim 4G status, a mobile broadband would have to offer a download speed of at least one gigabyte per second with local wireless access and one hundred megabytes per second with mobile access.
While LTE seems to be able to offer download speeds of up to one hundred megabytes per second for its mobile access plan, neither it nor WiMax have been able to match the minimum local wireless access download speed, therefore neither can be currently considered a 4G network. This doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t something great to look forward to.
WiMax is the everyman mobile broadband of the future. Developed by such big names as Google, Comcast, and Sprint, the WiMax network offers support for both fixed wireless connectivity and mobile wireless connections. It covers a much larger area than LTE and gives complete control to the user. Any device and any network can access the WiMax mobile broadband.
If you have contracted WiMax service with Sprint but find yourself in Intel territory, you will still be able to access your WiMax connection with any device you choose. WiMax providers will not be able to block any service or device, and they will not be able to charge more for certain websites or restrict access to anywhere on the web at any time. Available generously for both home and vacation use, WiMax is much the same as the current broadband offered to most US residences: One monthly fee gives you full access to the entire internet.
LTE, on the other hand, gives more control to the LTE group than the user. Developed mainly by Verizon, LTE will be able to charge more to access different sites and dictate more specifically how the network is used by the consumer. Because it is specifically geared toward mobile access, however, LTE makes the internet available to nearly anyone. Youtube videos can be viewed by even those with just regular, un-smart phones.
LTE also claims much faster speeds, ranging from twice to as much as four times the speed of WiMax broadband. Although this seems like a huge advantage for LTE, the fact is that most of today’s mobile devices cannot currently take advantage of the speeds offered. LTE also transmits on the seven hundred megahertz spectrum that suffers from a lot of interference from other sources of electromagnetic energy such as power lines, radio stations, and even microwaves.
Both of these new technologies are IP based, and WiMax even uses the same basic protocol as is currently employed by Wi-Fi. Because of this, your mobile device will not simply be registered on the network of one solo carrier, but rather on the entire WiMax or LTE broadband as a whole.
While WiMax started off strong with a plethora of influential backers, LTE has now matched or even surpassed that, boasting support from AT&T and T-Mobile as well as Verizon. And, although WiMax is working furiously toward upping its speed, right now the speed advantage balance is precariously tipped in favor of LTE. Still, LTE has not been able to hold a candle to WiMax’s complete user control.
Guest Author: This is a guest article by Spencer Hogg who writes for the website Broadband Expert, which is the mobile internet comparison site where great deals can be found and compared.