WiMAX and LTE Coexist

Key considerations when choosing between WiMAX and LTEPureWave Networks, Inc. develops both LTE small cell base stations and Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) compact base stations. We feel that LTE and WiMAX each uniquely address the needs of a certain segment of the market and that the two technologies will continue to coexist for an extended period of time.

Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) offers a thriving, vibrant and complete eco-system of products and services PureWave is committed to supporting this robust Mobile WiMAX eco-system and will continue to work closely with a wide range of eco-system partners, including device manufacturers and ASN-GW providers to ensure that our WiMAX customers have continued access to a wide range of product solutions that address their needs and that have been extensively tested with PureWave’s unmatched compact base stations. We are further committed to superior customer service and support and to continuing to enhance and expand the capabilities of our award winning base stations. 

PureWave believes that at present and for a long time to come, Mobile WiMAX will remain the best technology choice for smaller operators such as rural LECs, wireless internet service providers, as well as for those who operate private networks for such applications as municipal communications, smart grid applications, oil and gas communications and education or campus based environments. 

We believe that LTE will continue to gain strength and momentum with large carriers and will become the dominant cellular technology for such operators for the next decade. The technology will ultimately expand to cover a variety of other applications, will become more prevalent and its cost and complexity will decrease over time as the eco-system continues to mature.

Choosing Between WiMAX and LTE?Operators everywhere are inundated with media and analyst reports announcing the supremacy and rapid growth of LTE. Consequently, many operators are concerned about the long term prospects for WiMAX or incorrectly believe that LTE is the only appropriate choice for their networks. As a vendor offering both LTE and Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) solutions, PureWave has a unique point of view on the subject.

Reality is that while LTE is a versatile and rapidly maturing technology, it is not appropriate for all networks. In fact, in many cases operators would be better off choosing Mobile WiMAX as their network technology. Choosing the best technology for a given network depends on many factors, including the intended application, availability of appropriate spectrum choices and the operator’s own technology sophistication and long term intentions for the network.

Use the chart below to help in your decision making process:

LTE Mobile WiMAX (802.16e)
TDD or FDD FDD, with TDD support quickly developing
Frequency Bands Bands defined by E-UTRAN
2.x and 3.x bands with a wide range of additional bands
Unlicensed Band Support None at present
Core Network Support EPC is complex and is designed to support large cellular operators. The industry is working to reduce complexity and offer alternatives. This will take time.
ASN-GW or Standalone mode. Unlike most vendors, PureWave supports both options.
Core Deployment Cost Can be in excess of $1M 
$0 to $50,000 depending on operator needs
CPE Availability Primarily cell phone, MiFis and USBs, form factors requested by major operators. At present supply requires substantial commitments.
Everything from outdoor CPE, desktop units, USBs, MiFis and a limited supply of phones. No quantity commitment is required in most cases.
Eco-System Maturity Improving rapidly. Some growing pains.
Mature and stable.
Operator Type Mostly large cellular operators
Small and Medium operators, private network owners and vertical applications. 
Application Focus Mobile applications Fixed, nomadic and light-mobile applications

For more detailed information and important technology considerations, please request our LTE vs. WiMAX technology whitepaper below.

Migrating from Mobile WiMAX to TD-LTEOperators often ask whether a simple migration path exists between Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) and LTE. While some might lead you to believe that there is a simple, “software” only migration between the two technologies, our experience in helping customers migrate between different radio technologies show us that this is never simple in reality as it appears to be on paper.

We believe that migrating between the two technologies is a business challenge, and we are committed to assisting our customers in making a smooth and efficient transition between Mobile WiMAX and TD-LTE when they feel that they need to do so.

In planning a future migration between the two technologies operators need to be aware that upgrading the network infrastructure is only the beginning. Most Mobile WiMAX operators use a combination of fixed and nomadic and occasionally mobile devices in their network. Migrating your network infrastructure to LTE is only the simple part of the migration process – moving your customers to the new technology is always the more complex part of the project. Truck rolls to address fixed devices, and customer appointments to switch mobile devices are a laborious and time consuming process and cannot be achieved overnight. The challenge is more acute for operators who have mobile or nomadic devices in their network, since upgrading the network gradually by replacing one base station at a time is not possible. This means that in most cases of technology migration, the Mobile WiMAX and TD-LTE network would need to co-exist to allow for a smooth customer migration and avoid service disruption.

To accomplish this, operators must ensure that they have sufficient spectrum and that this spectrum is efficiently used to allow for a temporary overlay network to exist.

Critical technology considerations when planning a migration from Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) to TD-LTE:
  • Device availability (Dual mode devices or gradual migration)
  • Installation of necessary network core (EPC)
  • Channel planning to facilitate network overlay
  • Radio Access Network upgrade

PureWave is committed to supporting our customers who choose to migrate between Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) and TD-LTE and to ensure an efficient, affordable and smooth transition between the two standards. For more information on how PureWave can assist in realizing technology choices, please contact your PureWave representative.

To make our products as reliable, simple to use and affordable as possible, we chose to keep our Mobile WiMAX and TD-LTE product lines separate technologically. This allows us to price our LTE products aggressively and to ensure an affordable migration path for our clients.

3 Things you thought you knew about Mobile WiMAX and LTE that are wrong:
  1. LTE Delivers More Capacity than Mobile WiMAX – not true! For a given channel size the two technologies deliver almost exactly the same throughput.

  2. LTE is More Cost Effective than WiMAX – not true! While PureWave and the rest of the industry are working hard to reduce LTE’s cost and complexity, LTE core network components (EPC) can be cost prohibitive for some smaller operators.

  3. LTE will Completely Replace WiMAX – not true! Smaller operators and private network operators will continue to deploy Mobile WiMAX due to its affordability, simplicity, robustness and support for a wide variety of spectrum bands.

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