Clearwire’s Morrow: Let’s Merge WiMAX, LTE! Verizon: No Way!

LAS VEGAS, NEV. — CTIA — Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow used a keynote appearance here Wednesday to extend a sort of olive branch to proponents of competing 4G radio technologies, saying that the industry and end-users would be better off if somehow WiMAX and LTE could merge together to produce a single standard sometime in the future.

(UPDATE: According to Verizon Wireless EVP and CTO Tony Melone, it ain’t gonna happen. Quotes below.)

“Hopefully at some point in the future we’ll all be using the same technology,” Morrow told CTIA’s big cheese Steve Largent, who was “interviewing” Morrow in the classic fireside-chat format. While both Morrow and his business partner in WiMAX Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said Wednesday morning that they expect Long Term Evolution to eventually succeed, Morrow responded to a question from Largent about the state of the different camps by saying “rather than getting into camps, we should converge [LTE and WiMAX].”

Noting that the two technologies have very similar underpinnings — Motorola, in fact, has said that it re-uses much of its WiMAX-flavored technology when building LTE gear — Morrow said that all concerned should work toward a joint standard sometime in the future, since a single standard would produce greater economies of scale and therefore lower costs and better performance for end users.

More thoughts on this one later — time to go listen to Verizon talk about its LTE plans. Should be interesting to see what they think of Morrow’s kumbaya idea.

UPDATE: Perhaps predictably, Verizon didn’t think much of Morrow’s proposal. “There is one big happy family, and it is following the 3GPP (LTE) path,” said Tony Melone, Verizon executive vice president and Chief Technical Officer for wireless, during an LTE press briefing. “If they [Clearwire] want to converge, that’s the path to follow. But I don’t see the standards bodies coming together.”

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