What is WiMAX?

WiMAX is a telecommunications technology that can transmit wireless data over 500 times further than the leading WiFi networks, while maintaining speeds at par with DSL and Cable. This innovative technology has the potential to revamp broadband Internet access in the same way that cell phones have forever altered the use of phone access. For these reasons, WiMAX is sometimes referred to as WiFi on Steroids. WiMAX, which stands for the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, has the ability to exchange information on multiple machines using radio waves that are transmitted from WiMAX base stations.

WiMAX is based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 standard, which defines the technical features of the communications protocol, and is also known as Broadband Wireless Access and as a Wireless Metropolitan Area Network (WirelessMAN). Current WiFi networks operate on the 802.11 standard, which reach a maximum range of about 300 feet and a speed of up to 54 Mbps. However, the 802.16 standard can extend to a 30-mile radius with wireless data transmitting up to 70 Mbps. With this significant increase in range and speed, WiMAX has the potential to extend the connectivity bubble over many remote areas that have never before had Internet connectivity.

The WiMAX network is deployed through a complex matrix of transmitting stations. The Internet Service Providers send information to WiMAX towers through a variety of technologies including fiber optic cables and microwaves links, with both line-of sight and non line-of sight transmissions. Similar to cell phone towers, WiMAX towers can provide coverage up to 3,000 square miles. On the user end, the WiMAX receivers are typically in the form of PCMCIA cards or are embedded into a wireless device and they operate similar to the way one would connect to a WiFi network with a laptop, smart phone, or other similar devices.

The bandwidth and reach of the WiMAX technology can have a major impact on several practical applications. Before the WiMAX solution, telecommunication industries had to run millions of wires to reach all their vendors in what they call the last mile, or the last stage of delivering connectivity to the customer. This process was tedious and expensive. With the advent of the wireless WiMAX network, the gap has narrowed between the communication providers and their consumers, in a simple, cost-effective way that avoids the need for an extensive labyrinth of cabling.

Additionally, WiMAX services can speed up and seam the transition of hotspot and cellular backhaul, whereby the wireless signals are transmitted back to the hardwired telecommunication systems. It can also provide a diverse source of Internet connectivity as part of a business continuity plan. That is, if a business has a fixed and a wireless Internet connection, especially from unrelated providers, they are unlikely to be affected by the same service outage. Furthermore, the WiMAX wireless broadband connection can provide high-speed data and telecommunication services for both stationary and nomadic WiMAX-ready devices without signing up with a wireless carrier. This gives users the freedom to choice where and how they connect to the Internet like never before. WiMAX provides a truly groundbreaking technology that significantly raises the bar on telecommunications and opens up a world of possibilities for expanding the digital world.

By, Ben Feldman

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