Dianne See Morrison
Thursday, April 2, 2009 10:59 AM
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) has panned the prospects of 4G wireless standard WiMax, comparing its fate to Betamax, the early video format that emerged in the 1970's and was superseded by VHS. The FT.com reports that Nokia's head of sales and manufacturing Anssi Vanjoki said at a launch event that he didn't see WiMax taking hold anywhere in a big way. He said, "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."
It's especially harsh considering that the handset giant is usually much more circumspect about the comments and criticism it makes. It also still has a seat on the board of the WiMax Forum, the industry group that was set up to promote the technology and which Nokia was a founding member. It's now predicting that competing 4G technology LTE, or Long Term Evolution, championed by carriers Verizon and AT&T (NYSE: T), will be the big winner. Vanjoki said, "It's my prediction that by 2015, we will have an LTE network that will cover most of the important places in the world and that will give us the coverage and capacity we need."
WiMax is the technology that Sprint's joint venture Clearwire offers. The company is on an aggressive roll out schedule, hoping to get traction and market share as quickly as possible before the promised LTE launches from AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ). Last week, Sprint (NYSE: S) announced an aggressive roll out of its WiMax offering, confirmed that it would start offering WiMax to customers on the same schedule as Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR). This year it plans to roll out 4G in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia and Seattle.