The VHS-Beta debate of 4G infrastructure

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I’ve had this article by Michelle Sklar sitting in a tab for a couple weeks trying to think of some commentary. Mostly because of an article I tweeted regarding Intel closing down its WiMax office.

To be fair to Sklar, she wrote about the two standards two weeks before the Intel announcement, although I read her article after (note to self: stay on top of all my feeds!). It seems like LTE really is on track to be the dominant standard for 4G technology but how will this impact long term technical development? Will reduced network management costs be a result of one dominant technology or does this open the industry to rent-seeking activities?

The fact that many of global telecoms equipment companies — Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, etc — are backing LTE suggests there should be some competition driving down infrastructure costs. And as the Financial Times article notes, WiMax has enough of an installed base that it’s unlikely to disappear altogether — especially if new Beceem processors allow mobile devices to seamlessly switch between networks.