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500,000 TD-LTE cell towers to be up and running by 2016, WiMAX is pretty much dead

Analysts from ABI Research have come to the conclusion that WiMAX is officially going the way of the dodo thanks to TD-LTE. They say that by the end of 2016 we’ll see more than half a million TD-LTE cell towers deployed all over the world, with the majority of them being in China.

“It was only two years ago that nearly every WiMAX operator, including operators with unpaired TDD frequency spectrum, were planning to deploy WiMAX 2. Today, almost all of them have switched plans and are deploying TD-LTE instead.” – Aditya Kaul, Practice Director, Mobile Networks, ABI Research

Did you hear that, nearly every WiMAX operator has decided to ditch the technology and go with something a bit more popular. Now yes, TD-LTE isn’t the same as the FD-LTE technology that operators in America and Europe are currently using, but that being said it shouldn’t be too difficult for companies building LTE devices to support both standards. Take Qualcomm for instance, their new S4 chips support every wireless standard under the sun, including TD-SCDMA, so from a logistics standpoint it’ll be easy for someone like HTC to make just one Android device and sell it to multiple markets.

The bigger question is where did WiMAX go wrong? On paper WiMAX promised to deliver everything LTE does, the standard was baked a few years before LTE, and best of all there was support coming from Intel. Thing is, operators don’t like going with something new. They’re the people who build networks, and they have relationships with infrastructure vendors who provide them roadmaps that go several years into the future. WiMAX was the new kid on the block, unproven, untested, whereas LTE is the obvious update to today’s 3.5G (HSPA+) networks. Simple as that.

Anyway, look forward to LTE-Advanced being deployed by 2016. That’s going to deliver close to 1 gigabit per second down to mobile devices. Just thinking about that kind of throughput melts our brains … and possibly gives us cancer too.

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