Qualcomm’s Lauer Disses WiMAX

We thought Qualcomm might be finally embracing WiMAX, given its recent purchase of TeleCIS’ mobile WiMAX assets. Not so much. Len Lauer, Qualcomm’s Executive Vice President and Group president, gave WiMAX the smackdown at the Wireless Innovations conference on Wednesday.

Lauer said WiMAX is more expensive to deploy than cellular networks, while cellular can provide the equivalent bandwidth. He also pointed to poor early reviews of South Korea’s network as an example of why the technology isn’t all that “revolutionary.” Harsh, though not unexpected since Qualcomm’s whole reason for existence is CDMA and WCDMA.

Ironically, Lauer was the CTOO at Sprint around the time the company made its decision to deploy a WiMAX network. Was it a bone of contention for him then? Who knows. Here are some of the good bits from his anti-WiMAX speech:

On WiMAX vs cellular speeds:

There’s a lot of talk about WiMAX, as a great revolution in the wireless industry. The fact is, it is not a revolution as far as architecture. Whether it’s CDMA or WCDMA technology, there is a tremendous amount of bandwidth that is being delivered in these architectures. When I say bandwidth, on the down link it can run 2 to 4 to 6 to 8 mbps per second and that is similar to what we are getting with cable modems throughout the world. It’s an assertion that WiMAX can only deliver these speeds, and you can’t do that with WCDMA and CDMA. In fact you can.

On WiMAX cost:

The second assertion on WiMAX is that it is very low cost. Well our view, and we think we know architecture pretty well, is that WiMAX is actually a higher cost to deploy than a WCDMA or CDMA2000 network. We see it as having cost disadvantages.

On WiMAX bad reviews:

In terms of performance characteristics, were are willing to compete with WiMAX any day of the week. . . If you look at it now in South Korea there a number of press articles written that the results are very disappointing, they only have a few thousand users. But if you look at CDMA or WCDMA where there are hundreds of thousands to millions of users.