Arguing that WiMAX is a better wireless 4G system than Long Term Evolution (LTE) – or vice versa – is a waste of time.

That’s the view of Dr Hans-Peter Petry, head of radio access and transport at Detecon International, who is adamant that it’s pointless claiming either side in the 4G debate is superior to the other.

"I would violently fight against those that say LTE is better than WiMAX," he said. "This is absolutely wrong.

Even so, Petry, who is a speaker at this week’s WiMAX Forum Mena in Dubai, said that a key question in the WiMAX community is how it compares to other wireless technologies.

He is addressing this in his presentation to the conference, which is entitled: Exploring The Capabilities Of Potential 4G Candidates And Understanding The Best Parameters For Benchmarking And A Successful Rollout.

As part of this, Petry will "clarify the landscape" – essentially spelling out what makes a technology 2G, 3G or 4G.

He told this is necessary because many people are confused by what a technology has to offer before it can be classed as 4G.

"There is a lot of confusion in the market," he said. "A lot of protagonists are confusing people with conflicting messages."

"For 4G there are very clear pre-requisites and without them being implemented in the technology, you can not claim it is 4G."

Dr Hans-Peter Petry, head of radio access and transport at Detecon International

So WiMAX partly belongs to 3G – along with LTE and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) – and only in certain circumstances can they claim to be 4G, according to Petry.

He said Detecon had defined a metric that enabled each of the technologies to be evaluated in a fair way.

This included: marketing, geography, services, tariffs, and technology inputs.

"All these parameters are important for an evaluation," he said. "We have mapped these into a single Service Production Cost (SPC)."

So it is possible to show the SPC for individual technologies under similar conditions.

Petry said this has produced some "astonishing results", the outcome of which shows that the decision on which 4G technology to implement is not a question of the technology.

"Under the same boundary conditions, the difference in the technology is minor."

Where there are differences, according to Petry, they lie in the roll-out strategies.

He said this came down to whether an operator is looking for coverage first, then capacity or vice versa.

"The recommendation is that before you talk about the technology, talk about other things such as roll-out strategy," he said.

So factors such as the kind of customer, whether the area is green field, brown field, rural or densely populated, all have to be considered.

Petry said boundary questions then had to be dealt with before, finally, talking about the appropriate technology.

"Then you can choose the right technology," he said. "Do not choose WiMAX because you think it is better than LTE."

As a footnote, Petry said he believed LTE would ultimately capture a larger market share than WiMAX.

That may prove correct, but as the performance and capabilities of WiMAX and LTE get better over time, the competition between them will become less important than that between wireless and wired broadband.

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