NY Times on WiMAX: Mostly Correct

There are some nits to pick for those of us who live and breathe WiMAX and LTE, but for the most part today’s New York Times story on Sprint’s use of WiMAX largely gets the big points right.

But there are some errors and generalizations that leave room for improvement — like claiming WiMAX was invented by Intel? Bankrolled, maybe, but last we checked it was an IEEE baby, at least in its standardized form. And we’d like to know a bit more about who the “experts” are that gave reporter Saul Hansell this tidbit:

While it is still in development, some experts say L.T.E. will be able to handle more traffic than WiMax, and the L.T.E. systems planned by AT&T and Verizon would use radio frequencies that penetrate buildings better than those used by Clearwire.

Well, according to one expert — Verizon CTO Dick Lynch, whose company will use LTE — the radio technologies are functional equivalents. Throughput will depend mainly on the available spectrum depth. (To Hansell’s credit he does note that Clearwire has more spectrum depth than AT&T and Verizon; but that leaves a reader not sure how his two points balance out.)

And while 700 MHz is better than 2.5 GHz for some tasks — like penetrating building walls — it’s not yet been proven that the frequency is better suited for urban use, since those same powerful characteristics that let it penetrate walls also make it harder to put towers close enough together to satisfy a large number of users.

It’s confusing and complex, yes. But not so hard that you can’t get it right, or talk to more than one “expert,” right? Maybe next time.

UPDATE: Hansell has just added a folow-on blog post that allows for comments, so join in the conversation if you are so moved.

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