2010 June 16
by Dave

Consider tonight’s post eaten by the world cup. A very late work night, an urgent care trip for someone other than myself, work travel for a spouse, beer, whiskey, and a DVR recording of today’s Brazil’s World Cup opener v North Korea have conspired to delay even consideration of tonight’s post until the late moment of now. I never thought I would so enthusiastically hope for North Korea to succeed at anything. I’ll screen it again Wednesday night after I watch Spain if you want to swing by my place late.

So anyway, amazing matches. How about Intel v Qualcomm in the 4G cup. A strong goal by the Q last week in India. Qualcomm managed to win 4 regional spectrum blocks in the 2.3 GHz. band auction wich they of course are going to deploy TD-LTE in rather than Wimax, and the only nation wide chunk of spectrum went to an operator committed to TD-LTE as well. None of the other regional winners has declared yet, but roaming is important so I fully expect most of them to go with LTE as well.

For those of you who follow 4G mobile as much as you follow soccer I will break this down for you. First off, Wimax = Intel and LTE  = Qualcomm. You can currently get a multi mode 3G/4G device featuring Wimax for the 4G bit in America on Sprint. FD-LTE(Frequency Division LTE), which has different spectrum requirements than Wimax, will hopefully be rolled out in the US by Verizon later this calendar year. TD-LTE(Time Division LTE) has the same spectrum requirements as Wimax but is unlikely to see a commercial implementation anywhere until late 2011 or possibly 2012.

Up until a few months ago it looked like Wimax and LTE would split the 4G pie with FD-LTE being layered on existing 3G spectrum allocations and Wimax being deployed in newly opened up frequency blocks. However the promise of China going with TD-LTE spurred base station manufacturers to roll out TD-LTE equipment sooner than any one expected.

The Wimax camp had been pushing for the Indian spectrum auction to happen for the last two years. Had it been sooner India would be Intel country. It is now Qualcomm country. Clearwire, the company that runs the 4G network that Sprint uses, has also made noise about upgrading to TD-LTE rather than the proposed next generation Wimax standard.

I expect to see Intel retreat from it’s wireless IC development and focus on lower power and lower price mobile co-processors to compete better with Qualcomm’s snapdragon family of processors.

Another lingering question is whether Intel even cares. One strong possibility is that the entire point of Wimax was to hasten the transition from 3G to 4G thus increasing the global demand for computing of all kinds which at the moment benefits Intel. If so, it has been a success.

In a related note I just saw a Gillette razor commercial with iPhone product placement. Consider me flummoxed.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS