Nokia Exec: WiMax The 'Betamax' Of Wireless

Nokia (NOK) is the biggest mobile phone company in the world, and its Nokia Siemens venture is one of the biggest wireless infrastructure providers in the world. So it’s worth listening when a Nokia exec says that WiMax — the 4G wireless technology that Clearwire, Sprint, and the cable industry is betting on — is pretty much toast.

“I don’t see that WiMax is taking hold anywhere in a big way,” said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s head of sales and manufacturing, at a Nokia event in San Francisco yesterday, according to the FT.

“I don’t think the future is very promising [for WiMax]. This is a classic example of industry standards clashing, and somebody comes out as the winner and somebody has to lose. Betamax was there for a long time, but VHS dominated the market. I see exactly the same thing happening here,” Mr Vanjoki added.

This sounds fair to us. While Clearwire has the support of Sprint, Intel, Google, and big cable companies, the vast majority of Americans do not buy wireless service from those companies. The majority of Americans buy wireless service from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other carriers, which are lining up behind a competing technology called LTE.

Consumers are going to go where the best devices and services go. That could very easily be LTE, and not WiMax. (The main WiMax advantage in the U.S. — time — is slipping away.)

If not now, the big question could soon be: When Clearwire and Sprint will have to switch to LTE — not if.

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