Speaking at the Portable Computer and Communications Association meeting, James Harper, Nokia's senior manager of technology marketing, said LTE is the preferred technology for the next generation of mobile broadband devices because of its clear road map and backward compatibility with current 3G networks.
The majority of cellular operators have chosen LTE for their 4G networks partly because of its theoretical 100-Mbps download speed. This can offer mobile carriers the ability to offer services like streaming high-definition video that aren't possible on modern 3G networks. Even though it probably won't reach the theoretical limit, LTE will blow away current mobile data offerings.
Nokia did not elaborate on what type of LTE devices it would be producing, as there are only a handful of carriers expected to begin rolling out LTE networks in 2010. Nokia is also "actively looking" to enter the laptop market, and there's a chance it could include LTE to provide nearly ubiquitous Internet connectivity.
Companies like Clearwire, Google, Sprint, and Intel have backed rival WiMax as the technology of choice for 4G networks. While it has a lower theoretical download limit, Clearwire already has live networks up and running in Baltimore and Portland, Ore.
Having the world's largest cell phone manufacturer firmly back LTE could potentially marginalize WiMax, as Nokia has already discontinued its WiMax Internet tablet. But WiMax backers said the technology will thrive because it won't be as costly to deploy since most of the heavy investments have already been made.
"WiMax has some place in the market, but we do believe it's a niche play," Harper said.
LTE vs. WiMax won't be the typical winner-take-all showdown. Learn what each brings to the race (registration required).