Wednesday, June 22, 2005

WiMAX: Broadband on the Move

Most mobile computing users know which of their local coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries have wireless access. Many have set up wireless networks within their homes. Now, imagine having high-speed connectivity at home, around town, and even driving down the highway.

WiMAX is a Internet connnectiveity protocol which is very similar to WiFi (wireless fidelity). WiFi is a short-range network that allows anyone with a laptop to access the Internet within 150 feet of a hot spot. WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is similar WiFi but has a potential range up to 30 miles, eventually allowing access the Internet at broadband speeds.

WiMAX is standard is known as 802.16 and being marketed by the WiMax Forum, a consortium of over 80 members. With about 20 percent of the US not within reach of cable or DSL, WiMAX is designed as a "third pipe" or a technology that can complete with cable and DSL services for broadband network connectivity.

WiMAX utilizes base stations resembling cellular towers which transmit signals to subscriber stations. With speeds from 5 to 10 Mbps the technology is also faster than cable or DSL and can it can offer a cost-effective alternative to those technologies. While the technology can extend to 30 miles, the practical application is 3-5 miles based on tower hight, antenna gain, and transmit power.

The initial version of the technology id meant as a fixed network access point, not mobile. In 2006 and 2007, portable WiMax will enter the market. Companies offering fixed-antenna WiMax service could offer portable service within their service footprints. Manufacturers will then begin to integrate WiMax into PC cards, laptops, and portable devices.

A rival standard 802.20, or Mobile-Fi, was designed for mobility so it can handle mobile communications in moving vehicles up to 155 MPH. However, WiMAX will hit the market first.


Cohan, Alan. "WiMAX: The wireless net gets extreme" PC Magazine. July 13, 2004

Martin, James A. "What's next for wireless?" PC World. July 29, 2004

Miller, Matthew. "When, where, and WiMAX" EDN. May 24, 2004

WiMAX Networking News

WiMAX Forum Sphere: Related Content

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