The battle between LTE and WiMax for 4G dominance may soon be over with LTE declared the champ, according to a report out today from IHS iSuppli.
Though WiMax still enjoys a slight edge for now, adoption of LTE (long-term evolution) will surpass that of its 4G rival sometime next year. By 2014, the number of LTE subscribers will hit 303.1 million versus only 33.4 million for WiMax, said IHS.
"With WiMAX enjoying a two- to three-year head start in next-generation network deployments, it presently enjoys a major advantage in market share in the 4G segment," Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless research at IHS, said in a statement. "However, with LTE supported by most of the leading wireless operators worldwide, it will rise to surpass WiMAX in 2012 and then dominate worldwide during the following years."
WiMax will remain on top for 2011 with 14.9 million global subscribers, up from 6.8 million last year, IHS said. But LTE deployments will continue to jump, reaching 10.4 million users this year, a notable increase from just 702,000 in 2010 and virtually zero in 2009. An estimated 10 carriers around the world have already kicked off their LTE networks so far, with more than 30 new operators expected to launch theirs this year.
LTE has enjoyed a particular surge in the United States as AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile are all at various stages deploying or readying their own 4G LTE networks. The lone holdout has been long-time WiMax backer Sprint, which last year launched its HTC Evo 4G smartphone over its WiMax network.
Many vendors took the opportunity at last month's CES to announce upcoming 4G devices that would run over LTE networks. Verizon Wireless alone unveiled a total of 10 LTE devices from different manufacturers, including smartphones, notebooks, tablets, and a mobile hot spot.