HSDPA Winning Favor Over WiMAX

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Wireless broadband may prove a major differentiator for cellular operators, but overly optimistic vendor claims and lack of a business case could make HSDPA the technology of choice for cellcos over WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies.

Dave Williams, CTO of O2 – which is evaluating WiMAX and will launch HSDPA on the Isle of Man later this year – said his company has been looking at wireless broadband mainly in terms of rollout costs, and HSDPA looks the most attractive option over TDD-based technologies.

“There are several factors to consider – a new core, increased backhaul costs and new site deployments. From that perspective, HSDPA is more cost-efficient for us than TDD technology because we don’t need a new core and our base stations are already HSDPA-capable,” Williams said during a CTO panel at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes on Monday.

Williams admitted that HSDPA terminal shortages will be an initial problem, but added that O2 sees HSDPA as a mobile broadband service.

Which is how HSDPA is being positioned by vendors such as Siemens. Its first HSDPA terminal, unveiled at a press conference Monday evening in Cannes, is a data card. However, Siemens Communications president Lothar Pauly sees HSDPA as complementary rather than competitive to WiMAX (which Siemens also supports), and listed three key differences between them.

“First, HSDPA is a full mobility solution, which means you can use it when you are moving at any speed. WiMAX is more for nomadic or stationary usage. Second, HSDPA is available today; WiMAX is available tomorrow. Third, HSDPA can use the same frequency and same network as 3G. With WiMAX, you need to build a new network, and you need new spectrum, which hopefully will not be auctioned,” Pauly said.

Alcatel chief technology officer Niel Ransom said that stationary WiMAX seemed more appropriate as a rural wireless solution, where DSL and cable broadband are non-existent.

“From a price point perspective, WiMAX will have a tough time competing against ADSL,” he said.

Source: John C. Tanner

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