Clearwire Could Ditch WiMAX For LTE Before Even Giving It A Real Chance

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WiMAX hasn't even been deployed properly and Clearwire could ditch it for LTE standard.

According to a Clearwire executive, a change in the terms of an agreement Clearwire has with Intel will allow "either party to exit the agreement - which had until now forced Clearwire to use WiMAX through Nov. 28, 2011 - with just 30 days notice."

While there isn't any sort of official indication that Clearwire is actually waving goodbye to WiMAX just yet, such a move would definitely be devastating for the standard. Of course, the whole thing is entirely messy and confusing because WiMAX and LTE technologies actually overlap:

So here's the crazy thing about WiMax and LTE, which you might not realize from all the smack talk coming out of Verizon and AT&T. I'm probably going to blow your mind right now: "They both use the same fundamental technology," says Barry West, Clearwire's President and Chief Architect. They both use orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing access and they're both IP (internet protocol) based. More simply, you can kind of think of the difference between WiMax and LTE as a software, not a hardware thing (kind of like Macs and PCs using the same Intel chip). Alcatel-Lucent, who makes the 4G wireless hardware, is actually "building hardware that is on a common platform," Paul Mankiewich A-L's Wireless CTO told us. In fact, West told us, at "some point in the future it's possible to harmonize" LTE and WiMax, it just "requires people to be willing to do that."


While we wait to discover if there'll be harmony or doom for the standards, you can read up on the differences in our guide to 4G. [Giga Om]