LTE vs WIMAX

WiMAX and LTE will be the next future 4G broadband wireless access technologies. These two technologies aim to provide mobile voice, video and data services by promoting low cost deployment and service models through Internet friendly architectures and protocols.

The WiMAX (IEEE 802.16 standard) comes from IEEE family of protocols. It was developed in US, which is the country with higher implementation and network coverage. The LTE, on the other hand, comes from the 3GPP and it was developed as a European standard. There are lots of differences between these two standards, specially related with the air interface radio aspects, the access modes and protocol aspects.

The latency is one of the most important aspects in real-time multimedia services (Video on Demand and Live Video Streaming such as live tv, broadcast services, videoconference…): the lower the latency is, the better QoS will be. The LTE latency is around 10ms, whereas in WiMAX it is around 50ms. Moreover, WiMAX needs a longer frame overhead, which means higher packet delay.

The battery life of the mobile devices is a key, specially in smartphones and tablets. LTE consumes lower power than WiMAX because of the uplink access technique: LTE uses SC-FDMA which can be interpreted as a linearly precoded OFDMA scheme. This technique consumes lower power than OFDMA, the WiMAX used technique, so it prolonges the handset battery life.

LTE makes possible Internet connections under 350km/h and WiMAX only allows 120km/h. LTE supports handover and roaming with 3GPP networks, which is not easy to do with WiMAX. So, in terms of mobility LTE is also better than WiMAX.

LTE has another key performance advantage: it is better integrated with other cellular technologies, making for smoother transitions between 3G and 4G. Moreover, LTE evolved from 2G and 3G standards (GSM, HSPA+ and UMTS), so today’s infrastructure, protocols and mobile devices will be easily adapted to LTE networks.

Today it seems that LTE will win WiMAX and world mobile operators have started to switch from WiMAX to LTE. Nowadays the amount of subscribers is increasing day by day: USA is the leading of LTE market, first deployments are started on South America this year, european countries started to implement since 2011 and it is expected to be implemented in Russia, India and China.

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