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At a Glance

Although WiMAX has a longer range of transmission than LTE, the difference between the two transmission standards is not likely to matter to most consumers.

Welcome to the days of the newest technology. WiMAX and LTE are types of data transmission standard for cellular devices that can revolutionize the world. In the cellphone world, these technologies are referred to as 4G. 4G technology surpasses prior 2G and 3G technologies in terms of speed and uplink capacity. 3G technology has the capacity to transmit data at 2 megabits per second, whereas WiMAX ups the maximum speed to 40 megabits per second. The capacity and technology of both WiMAX and LTE outshine the competitors and will shape the way we use our mobile devices over the next decade. If you’re considering buying a phone with a WiMAX vs. LTE data connection, we hope this article will make the decision an easier one.

Pictured at top: Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4


Any new technology comes at a cost. Revamping cellphone technology requires building new or modifying old cellular towers to transmit data using the new standard. LTE has an advantage in that is compatible with the older 2G and 3G standards. In theory, this will smooth the transition to the new standard in areas where LTE is not yet available. For a cell phone user, this means less dropped calls and service interruptions. For Verizon and other WiMAX companies to have the same coverage, more money will need to be spent. Customers will likely have to pick up a portion of the bill.


WiMAX offers a long term advantage to LTE. Similar to Wi-Fi, a WiMAX router can transmit internet signal over an area. What is interesting about WiMAX is the capacity to which it can transmit wireless internet service — up to 30 miles away or about half that for mobile stations. This breeds the possibility of a cell phone acting as a router and providing Internet access to the house. Further development of this technology may build cities with wireless coverage at greater distances. With cellphones becoming more and more like computers, the high-speed internet of WiMAX and LTE will help to achieve this functionality.


WiMAX and LTE function similarly. Both technologies are installed at a cellphone tower and transmit data using radio frequencies. WiMAX has the capacity to function over more radio frequencies, but this detail is primarily of importance only if you travel extensively. Most cell phones only work off of one or two radio frequencies, which are standard for the country the cell phone is in. Both WiMAX and LTE have faster upload and download speeds than the older 2G and 3G standards, making either a significant improvement in data transfer speeds on mobile devices. LTE was given an award by the Next Generation Mobile Networks in 2008.


For the customer, WiMAX and LTE are similar in price. Each price is a part of a cellphone package sold by the individual company. Many companies do not show a price increase with the new technology. Internet packages on cell phones are roughly the same across many carriers. It is common to see companies offer unlimited data packages, although the term “unlimited” only applies if you don’t download significantly more than the average customer. The difference in price in a cell phone plan seems not to be the 4G technology, but rather in the phone itself. Because smartphones cost more to produce and typically use more data than feature phones, the higher associated cost will be built in to your monthly bill. Verizon sells WiMAX, whereas Sprint has LTE. The difference in prices between the two companies is reflective of company philosophies and not due to the cell phone technology.