Interop: 4G WiMAX and LTE to co-exist on laptops and cameras

Laptops and other consumer devices with 4G access are already on the way to widespread deployment, and some vendors will be supporting WiMAX and LTE within the same products, according to 4G experts today at the Interop conference.

NEW YORK, N.Y. (BetaNews) - Will WiMAX and LTE -- the two main flavors of future 4G networks -- be able to peacefully co-exist? Yes, but by living next to each other on consumer electronics products rather than by joining hands through standards groups, according to panelists at Interop.

Intel has already sent chips to laptop makers supporting both sorts of 4G networks, pointed out multiple members of a 4G panel held in New York City today. Ericsson has done likewise, with dual support 4G chips geared to use in a variety of devices, pointed out Sten Andersson, Ericsson's VP of wireless strategy for North America.

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Beyond laptops and phones, 4G support will show up in digital cameras, camcorders, smartphones, and just about every other type of consumer device, according to the panelists.

Increasingly, these devices will be supporting Wi-Fi, too, in addition to WiMAX -- a 4G technology now being adopted by Sprint Nextel, Clearwire, and NextWave, among others -- and LTE, an alternative 4G technology embraced by Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

In early implementations, 4G is already supporting speeds of more than 3 Mbps on the downlink and 1 Mbps on the uplink.

Companies are now following up on earlier tests of WiMAX with new LTE trials, observed Ramesh Kumar, worldwide marketing director in TI's Communications Infrastructure Business Unit, DSP Systems. In doing so, he noted, some of them will repurpose infrastructure equipment built with TI chips which are expressly designed to support both standards with simply a swap of software.

Yet will WiMAX and LTE ever converge at the standards level, too? Vodafone has proposed an initiative in this direction, but it hasn't gone that far, according to Ashish Sharma, VP of corporate market development for Alvarion. "There's no momentum behind it," Sharma contended.

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