During the past few months, telecom service providers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have highlighted their roadmaps and deployment plans for 4G network technologies. These 4G technologies include Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax networks. Enterprises in North America and Europe are in the early stages of 4G network adoption based on results from Forrester’s SMB and Enterprise Networks and Telecommunication survey. Approximately 4% of surveyed enterprises currently implement or are expanding their implementation of fixed or mobile WiMax networks, and 3% of firms are implementing or expanding their implementation of LTE networks. These implementation percentages are expected to increase as the service providers pursue their 4G deployment initiatives.
Sprint jumped out ahead of competitors in the US by deploying WiMax using infrastructure from its partner Clearwire. Sprint owns a majority stake in Clearwire along with cable companies and other firms. Sprint reports that this WiMax infrastructure is currently available in 48 US markets and reaches 55 million people. By the end of 2010, the WiMax network is expected to reach 120 million people. Clearwire is hedging its 4G bets and is planning to begin trials of LTE technology in Phoenix the next few months. However, during a recent discussion with Matt Carter, President of 4G at Sprint Nextel, the message was clear – Sprint is committed to focusing its 4G efforts on deploying WiMax. Sprint is hoping to build on the momentum of its recently announced net subscriber growth in three years, as well as the release of the HTC Evo 4G smartphone (and the upcoming Samsung Epic smartphone), which are intended to compete against Apple’s iPhone. Sprint is clearly having initial success with its WiMax initiative, the long-term success and viability of this WiMax strategy will be impacted by the efforts of Verizon and AT&T, which each have plans to deploy competing 4G network initiatives in the future.