NEW YORK, USA: Smartphones’ ever-growing capabilities increase the pressure to offer 4G performance. When 3G was introduced there was no need for great haste in deploying compatible handsets, but mobile’s new more ambitious range of functions is driving demand to roll out 4G (and 4G smartphones) more quickly.
According to ABI Research director Philip Solis, “Sprint’s 4G smartphone sales have been partially responsible for its recent subscriber growth. ABI Research forecasts that the carrier will ship almost three million 4G handsets for its WiMAX network by the end of 2010. That number is greater than many observers expected.”
Sprint has rolled out WiMAX in about 62 US cities to date. The latest, and one of the most significant: New York, which lit up on November 1.
In other 4G developments:
* KDDI in Japan is in the process of building an LTE network and is also part-owner of UQ Communications, a leading WiMAX provider. They are selling EVDO/WiMAX modems.
* India is still undecided on its 4G migration. “There were widespread expectations that India’s operators would opt en masse for TD-LTE, widely considered a ‘WiMAX-killer,’ says Solis, “but many of them have not yet made up their minds, while others hope to deploy WiMAX first, then switch to LTE: a shift that may prove more difficult and expensive than they expect.”
* Yota, which has accumulated 600,000 WiMAX subscribers in Russia, announced its intention to focus new rollouts on LTE and to deploy LTE alongside its existing WiMAX networks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But it has problems with Russia’s telecoms regulator concerning allocated spectrum. Investigations will delay the carrier’s LTE plans for at least two years. Yota is also continuing its WiMAX deployments in Nicaragua and Peru.
* However there is no doubt about LTE’s long-term potential: it will certainly define the market even in the short-term, as corroborated by many operators’ ambitious LTE plans, including those of Verizon Wireless and NTT DoCoMo.