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WiMAX - Broadband Wireless Access Technology....The Nitty Gritty
WiMAX is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business.
WiMAX technology involves microwaves for the transfer of data wirelessly. It can be used for high-speed, wireless networking at distances up to a few miles. The term WiMAX comes from 'Wireless (Wi) Microwave Access (MA).' WiMAX is very similar to Wi-Fi in that it uses the same core technology of wireless modulation developed way back in the '60's and '70's. It's called OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), for those that care about the technical terms.
The real benefit of WiMAX technology is that you can run signals very, very close to each other on wireless channels. You can have super narrow lanes, so you can put a lot of traffic over them and they don't disrupt each other.
With WiMAX, you're enabling the traffic lanes – or channels – to get smaller and narrower. This helps service providers seeking to offer wireless last-mile DSL or cable-type service because they can provide a narrower channel that uses less bandwidth and serve more users. You can take what used to be a fixed Wi-Fi lane and make a bunch more lanes and serve more people.
WiMAX will also be delivered over licensed spectrum. What that means is that you can turn up the output power and broadcast longer distances. So where Wi-Fi is something that is measured in hundreds of feet, usually WiMAX will have a very good value proposition and bandwidth up to several miles.
Also WiMAX is designed to be a carrier-grade technology, which requires a higher level of reliability and quality of service than are now available in typical Wi-Fi implementations.
Those fundamental differences make WiMAX more of a metropolitan area access technology versus hotspot.
There are areas of the world - especially in emerging markets and rural areas - where deploying wired broadband infrastructure is not cost effective. WiMAX is very cost effective technology to quickly deploy in the regions which otherwise would not have broadband access. So WiMAX helps spread broadband to more users more quickly than existing technologies.
Another benefit of WiMAX is the ability to get higher connection speeds farther away from the transmitter. Right now you can get a really high speed connection in Wi-Fi close to the transmitter. The other option is that you can get a pretty slow Internet connection using a cellular technology, which spans a greater distance. WiMAX fits between those two offerings. You'll get speeds similar to close-up Wi-Fi connections out to several miles away from the transmitter.
WiMAX will also be much easier to install, which makes it more cost-effective for service providers and hopefully some of those savings will accrue to users.
Today, Wi-Fi kind of lives by what we call the "five minute rule." If you live in a city, most likely you can walk five minutes and find a hotspot. Or if you're in your car in the suburbs or a village, you can usually drive within five minutes and find one of those. With WiMAX we're trying to offer that same type of service without having to drive or walk five minutes. Eventually, you can just open your notebook and get a connection, wherever you may be.
When WiMAX is fully developed, you'll no longer be limited to 300 feet within the Wi-Fi hotspot. And you won't have to drive around looking for a connection. Even though it's only five minutes, it's still five minutes, and that's just not as natural as getting a connection anywhere.
When people have a broadband connection they tend to use their computer more, they leave it on and they integrate it more into their lifestyle. WiMAX technology extends the range of broadband wireless access to more users in more geographies. This happens first with last mile connections where anyone wants them, and eventually in notebook mode for mobility.
The potential impact to internet connectivity and data management applications for communities and business is enormous with WiMAX. If you're interested in developing a WiMAX solution for your municipality or business...I suggest you contact the folks at Futura Technologies for advice and support for your project.
About the Author: Michael is the owner of FreedomFire
Communications....including DS3-Bandwidth.com. Michael also authors Broadband Nation where you're always welcome to drop in and catch up on the latest BroadBand news, tips, insights, and ramblings for the masses.