The number of carrier commitments for LTE has jumped 71 percent in the last six months and the world map for potential LTE service is quickly getting full. WiMAX may be used in some areas around the world, but LTE looks to be the global future.


Speedy LTE mobile broadband networks are on tap to unite the world, based on a map showing current and planned LTE coverage by country. A total of 132 operators in 56 countries are currently investing in LTE for next-generation networks, says the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, indicating a 71-percent increase in the number of carrier commitments from six months ago. Given that nearly 90 percent — or 4.45 billion — of the world’s mobile handsets already use the GSM standard on which LTE is based, the GSA map paints a bleak picture for alternative futures, involving WiMAX and other standards.

Even before I saw the map, however, I’d already noticed signs that the WiMAX wave may have crested. Intel is one of the largest proponents of WiMAX, mainly because it produces wireless chips that can be embedded into notebooks for mobile broadband service. The company has invested several billion dollars in the technology since 2006, but just dropped another $1.4 billion to purchase Infineon this week. The Infineon acquisition is, at the very least, an expensive hedge bet against Intel’s WiMAX investments, which aren’t generating a postive return.

Clearwire, the largest WiMAX provider here in the U.S., is showing signs that it too could join the map of LTE participants. Sure, the company just introduced relatively affordable and unlimited prepaid plans yesterday, but that strategy is to get customers on the network before competitors roll out their own next-gen networks over the coming months. Indeed, Clearwire has already opened the door to transition some or all of its vast spectrum to LTE in the future, as the company modified the terms of an agreement with Intel that requires the usage of WiMAX through November of 2011. Factor in Clearwire’s TD-LTE trials in Phoenix, and you can see that the WiMAX tide is slowly moving out to sea, both locally and in global terms.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): For Operators who bet on WiMAX, there’s an LTE Plan B

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Eric Schmidt: Welcome to the “Age of Augmented Humanity” « Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    [...] calls these converging phenomena the “age of augmented humanity.” He spoke of the growth of broadband, connected devices and computing power to envision what’s next after search — to my [...]

  2. Who’s Going To Win The LTE Race?: Tech News « Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    [...] A total of 132 operators in 56 countries are currently investing in LTE for next-generation networks. [...]

  3. LTE: Around the World: Tech News « Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    [...] snapshot of LTE across the planet. At last count, there were 132 carriers in 56 countries that were building LTE-based networks. This is not supposed to be the most comprehensive list, but instead it is meant to show the [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post