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How the 4G Mobile Network Standards Coexist

Consumers now seem eager to adopt affordable Mobile Internet access services. Long Term Evolution (LTE), the next-generation 4G mobile broadband standard, is going to be the clear choice for the next leap in wireless technology, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

While WiMax appeared to be a competitor for 4G network deployments early on, that battle is now largely resolved. LTE's deployment will primarily be impeded by the success of 3G networks and HSPA and HSPA+ networks as mobile operators seek to leverage the existing investment in their installed infrastructure.

"LTE still has several glaring issues," says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst. "These include lack of spectrum, signal-to-noise ratio, and non-established patent and royalty pool. It's clear that the shift toward 4G LTE will be gradual and protracted."

No, that assessment doesn't sound like it's a foregone conclusion that LTE is on the path to 4G standard domination. In fact, given the history of mobile technology standards, a form of coexistence tends to be the ultimate scenario. Why should 4G be any different -- particularly when one standard hasn't been deployed on a commercial network?

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- LTE deployments will effectively begin in 2010. North America and Asia-Pacific will be the first regions to deploy. WiMAX is already deployed on several networks around the globe.

- While LTE will ultimately become the 4G standard of choice, Mobile Wi-Max is much more mature in deployment and has a distinct niche. Even by 2013, Mobile Wi-Max will have more than 5 times as many global subscribers as LTE.

- External connectivity clients, such as network cards and USB dongles, will be the first LTE subscriber devices sold. LTE mobile handsets will not start shipping in major volumes until 2H12.

- WiMAX deployments have given chipset manufacturers, device manufacturers, and infrastructure suppliers real-world experience.

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