Cellular & WiMax Collide Says ABI

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Mobile telephony and WiMAX vendors may soon find themselves locked in competition for the same customers, according to new analysis by ABI Research.

The GSM world has moved from the typical 40Kbps of GPRS to the 130Kbps of EDGE, and is now moving towards the 384Kbps of UMTS. Though UMTS is supposed to represent the 3G Promised Land for GSM carriers, an upgrade has recently been proposed; High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). Soon the upcoming 3Mbps HSDPA software upgrade to UMTS, could make cellular a de-facto mobile broadband for voice and data.

On the CDMA side, 1XEV-DO Rev. A has an uplink speed of 1.8 Mbps with 3.1 Mbps downstream, making it possible to send voice packets with header information and not cause degradation of voice quality. Although no U.S. CDMA carrier has announced that it was testing or planning to migrate to Revison A.

Verizon Wireless Chief Technical Officer Dick Lynch said at CTIA Wireless 2004 that it was possible the company would continue on its EV-DO path and perhaps at some point offer a type of voice service over their EV-DO service (above).

Meanwhile, WiMax (below), will also be able to do voice communications through Voice-over-IP. And the next extension of the standard will make it mobile. The result? WiMax also equals mobile broadband for voice and data.

Will these two worlds collide?

“It’s only a matter of time,” says Alan Varghese, ABI Research’s principal analyst of semiconductor research. “HSDPA is an easy software upgrade from existing UMTS architecture, and cellular operators will be well on their way in 2005. WiMax will need brand new networks and infrastructure, so the upfront costs and timelines may be more; but once deployed, WiMAX will offer very high bit rates and the possibility for new entrants to compete either using licensed or unlicensed spectrum.”

ABI Research’s study, “HSDPA – Mobile Broadband” examines the drivers for HSDPA, the deployment schedules of operators, and the timelines and volumes for HSDPA Infrastructure, PC Cards, Handsets, and ICs.

PC World Tested “3G” Cellular Speeds
Network and device Highest speed we experienced: download Highest speed we experienced: upload Vendor-rated average speed Maximum possible speed
EDGE: Nokia 6620 cell phone 82 kbps 32 kbps 100 to 130 kbps 384 kbps
UMTS: Motorola A845 cell phone and Novatel Merlin U520 PC Card 291 kbps (phone), 320 kbps (card) 54 kbps 220 to 320 kbps 2 mbps

Related DailyWireless articles include; 3G in Dallas & San Diego, Cellular At The Races and Cellular VoIP.

Unstrung columnist Gabriel Brown handicaps the field.

For the majority of vendors and service providers that have embarked on metro 802.11 projects, it’s the attraction of low-cost equipment and unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum that motivates efforts to turn wireless LAN into wireless MAN. There are two basic network architectures for metro-zone 802.11:

There are advantages to both architectures, of course, (although wireless mesh sounds a lot more exciting), but the real good news is that regardless of the type of system deployed, the case for metro 802.11 is strengthened by parallel industry developments, including:

Taken individually, these are powerful trends; but combined with extended-coverage, metro-zone 802.11, they might just take the market to the point where public-access WiFi pays for itself, rather than having the coffee (or tea) pick up the check.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, November 5th, 2004 at 12:20 am .

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