Apples And Oranges: Flarion vs. EV-DO

Testing done by RBC Capital on the Nextel trial BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) network has so far been positive. Earlier, Mike reported that Nextel is pleased with the performance of the Flarion technology, and is widening the scope of the trial to test the market viability as well as the technology. But in a recent article on the trial, some errors were made with respect to comparing unlike services. RCR Wireless News seems to conclude that since Flash-OFDM has higher throughput, it’s superior to the EV-DO, EDGE, 1xRTT, and GPRS that other carriers are offering. Although this may be true, it is an argument of limited value, since Flash-OFDM is designed exclusively as a BWA technology, and the others are adjunct cellular phone technologies designed to provide data on a predominantly voice network. The F-OFDM requires a whole new network layover, where the others are often network upgrades. In fact, most cellular 2.5G and 3G alternatives have efficiency benefits on both the voice and data side, and were not designed simply to optimize data throughput. Similarly, one could say that a laser printer is better than a multi-function print/copy/fax/scan machine because the laser prints faster, but that’s not the whole story. I’m not saying that either F-OFDM or EV-DO is better or worse, but that analysts need to be very clear when comparing cellular evolution technologies and BWA technologies.

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