Sprint became a big backer of WiMax in 2007, and began offering WiMax services in earnest in 2009.
“Sprint will have 100 million covered by the end of 2008 and be in 35 markets,” said Sprint’s Barry West in 2007. It wasn’t until 2009 that Sprint’s WiMax launched.
It never really got off the ground. It didn’t help that the 2.6GHz band had lousy coverage.
The majority of cellular providers backed the incompatible FD-LTE standard, that came to dominate broadband wireless.
Verizon launched FD-LTE only 18 months later, in December 2010 after Sprint’s WiMax rollout in 2009. Verizon made a huge commitment to Frequency Division LTE in the 700 MHz band. Verizon’s coverage at 700 MHz soon eclipsed Sprint’s WiMax coverage at 2.6 GHz. AT&T launched their LTE service in Sept 2011.
Later, TD-LTE provided unpaired frequencies, especially in the 2.3 and 2.6 GHz bands. Sprint adopted TD-LTE and the standard has now been adopted by larger carriers in China, India, and elsewhere. No less than 59 mobile carriers have adopted LTE-TDD as of the end of July this year, accelerating the shift from WiMax to LTE.
With the momentum moving to LTE, the South Korean government has made a policy decision to convert WiBro services to time division duplex (TDD) LTE service.
Speaking at an investor conference last week, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer indicated that the US mobile giant expects to deploy TD-LTE across 5,500 Clearwire WiMAX base stations by the end of the year. Steve Elfman, president of network operations at Sprint, said that beginning in 2014, all of the carrier’s devices will be capable of operating on 2.5 GHz TD-LTE. Both China Mobile and Sprint plan to use essentially all of the 2.6 GHz spectrum (Band 41) for TD-LTE.
The 2.3GHz band was dedicated to WiBro services in South Korea. The government is currently mulling over the business permits for TD-LTE in the 2.5GHz frequency band. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced on September 12 that it has worked on related policy by setting up a task force including industry experts and research institutes in May. The announcement implies that the Korean government has set out to drop mobile WiMax in favor of LTE-TDD.
According to Business Korea, the ministry is planning to let new service providers select between WiBro and LTE-TDD for the 40MHz frequency in the 2.5GHz band. Mobile WiMax services, which are available now in the 2.3GHz band, will be converted to LTE-TDD in a phased manner.
The government hopes to boost their competitiveness in the LTE-TDD market, and is expected to prepare a national plan for the development of the LTE-TDD segment within this year.
In other TD-LTE news, Australia’s carrier Optus has switched on a TD-LTE network, dubbed “4G Plus”, in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, complementing their existing frequency-division (FD) LTE network in those cities. Optus first tested the technology in Canberra, which does not have an FD-LTE network.
The Optus TD-LTE network will use spectrum on the 2.3GHz band. The existing FD-LTE network runs on the 1800MHz band. A dual band TDD/FDD-LTE version of Samsung’s GALAXY S4 mini and GALAXY S4 is available on the Optus LTE network.
According to Andrew Smith, Optus’ Vice President of Optus Mobile Engineering, the company plans combined TD-LTE 2300 MHz and FD-LTE 1800 MHz networks and is preparing for 700 MHz and 2500 MHz next year.
Related Dailywireless articles include; WiMax: East Meets West, KT + Intel: WiBro Everywhere, WiBro Expands Thoughout Seoul, South Korea: SK Telecom Goes LTE,
Now Two South Korean LTE-A Networks , Japan’s WiMAX Gets Going, WiMAX Global War in Japan, Japan Launching WiMAX Rival, Japan Sub-channels WiMAX, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Yota Dumps WiMAX, Sprint WiMax called Xohm, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout, Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Verizon Launching LTE Dec 2010, Verizon 700 MHz LTE: We’re Done!, AT&T LTE Launch Sept 2011, WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?, Korea’s WiBro in Trouble?