updated 10:30 am EST, Wed November 5, 2008
Hybrid LTE and WiMAX Chips
Next year will bring devices that have two competing 4G data formats at once, a note from ABI Research. Company principal analyst Philip Solis explains that multiple carriers have expressed interest in supporting both Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX on the same chipset, letting them support either standard depending on the provider and region. The move would let carriers such as KDDI and Vodafone serve both their own services, which will prefer LTE, without the cost of building a second device for a WiMAX network in another country or a related provider.
Chips using the technology are already being built and will likely focus on handhelds in the mobile Internet device class as well as PC adapter cards and chipsets built into notebooks, though smartphones and ultimately most other hardware should get LTE/WiMAX chipsets as well.
Which vendors are developing these chipsets is unknown, but the dual-mode chipsets is likely to improve the adoption of 4G outside of cellphones. In the US, the 4G market will be fractured with Sprint alone offering WiMAX through its Xohm network but LTE available through at least AT&T and Verizon. Only a small number of notebooks from Acer, Toshiba and others are available at present with WiMAX in the US due to the need to use Sprint's currently limited network.