Mobilize: WiMAX for the Renegades, LTE for the Incumbents

GigaOM Mobilize conference: Broadband wireless debate

GigaOM Mobilize conference: Broadband wireless debate

Alright, so we wouldn’t exactly call the wireless broadband standard WiMAX “hip.” But it’s gaining traction with the alternative/disruptive companies and carriers, while the competing standard LTE (Long Term Evolution) is being taken up by the dominant cell phone companies. That’s a general overview of the theme of GigaOM’s “Broadband Wireless Debate” panel at Mobilize.

Clearwire’s Chief Strategy Officer Scott Richardson said that 3G can only go so far to deliver the future needs of consumers craving rich multimedia, music and video on the go. And the next generation of 3G from a carrier perspective, LTE, would take multiple years to implement, Richardson pointed out. On the other hand we’re about to deploy our WiMAX network in Portland, he said.

Jeff Belk, Managing Director of ICT168 Capital, jumped on that point — “the key phrase is ‘about to be deployed in Portland,'” compared to carriers’ networks, which are already dominant and practically ubiquitous.

Our own Om Malik summed up the dichotomy nicely. “WiMAX is becoming the renegade technology. . . . LTE is a carrier technology,” and later pointed out the difference isn’t even fundamentally about technology or cost but a mindset.

So where does that leave Wi-Fi? Oh, it will always be around and will help continue to do what it does best — drive down the costs for wireless access.