At the end of July, a pretty significant agreement was reached between Sprint and LightSquared that would share its network infrastructure with the new network, and that it would essentially be receiving a free LTE network if it agreed to build on top of its existent towers. Further, Clearwire, Sprint’s WiMax partner, has made no further plans for WiMax expansion. Instead, Clearwire has committed to incorporating LTE into its network, and eventually upgrading to LTE-Advanced several years down the road. Essentially, it seems WiMax has been left in the dust.
Broadcom, a wireless chip manufacturer, was asked this week about the WiMax situation and its future. Guess what they answered? Yes, WiMax has been abandoned. Last year, Broadcom acquired a company called Beceem that was a leader in chipsets for 4G WiMAX and LTE. Michael Hurlston, General Manager and Senior Vice President of the Wireless LAN Business Unit at Broadcom said that the Beceem team is more or less done with WiMAX.
“The WiMAX business is getting isolated to certain geographies,” said Hurlston. “It’s doing well in, for example, India, and doing relatively well in Japan, and somewhat in the Eastern Bloc, but in the U.S., I would say that it’s not doing particularly well. The reason for that is that LTE, the new cellular standard, is coming in and offering what WiMAX purports to offer, which is very wide area coverage at high speeds.”
“Sprint was a big proponent of WiMAX when they got involved with Clearwire, but that effort has largely slowed,” Hurlston continued. “So as it pertains to the United States, at least from our perspective, WiMAX is eddying, it doesn’t seem to be making a lot of progress and we’re not confident that ultimately it will be something that’s going to be very interesting, despite us buying a company that was focused on WiMAX. I think that we’re re-tasking that particular chip team to focus on LTE.”