4G wireless is both an opportunity and a risk for network operators and equipment providers alike. To achieve market success operators need flexible systems and equipment providers need flexible platforms After more than 10 years in development we are moving slowly towards the first big WiMAX deployments with a trial in Baltimore and Sprint and Clearwire combining their WiMAX businesses. In parallel multiple operators after committing to LTE for their next network upgrades (AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G) and the market for LTE is expected to be at least 4x that for WiMAX. Deployment of LTE is not however expected until 2010.
The convergence of wireless and wireline network infrastructure, together with the introduction of 4G technologies, requires new systems that can be easily developed and expanded. AdvancedTCA (ATCA) provides a common platform that meets these requirements. There is a comprehensive ATCA supplier base and many companies are using ATCA for initial system development (Nortel and LG Electronics use ATCA for LTE) and production systems (Using ATCA for Mobile WiMAX ASN Gateways and Schroff ATCA systems utilised in Airspan HiperMAX).
Both WiMAX and LTE use OFDMA technology and, as shown in a recent Light Reading Components Insider report, the first chips are now available that can support both WiMAX and LTE. By taking advantage of flexible platforms such as ATCA and using multiprotocol devices equipment providers are developing basestations and access gateways that will support 2G, 3G and 4G networks including WiMAX and LTE, giving operators greater flexibility as they develop their networks to meet consumer demand for high bandwidth services such as video.