Wi-Fi networks freed us from having to wire our offices and homes. Now WiMAX may free us from needing any wired connection to the Internet.
If you want broadband Internet connectivity, chances are you use a DSL, or cable-modem-based landline connection at home or a T1, T3 or frame-relay at the office.
WiMAX technology promises to replace that last mile connection with a point-to-multipoint wireless connection in the same way that 802.11 Wi-Fi has replaced the wired LAN.
WiMAX, the commercial name for a variety of technologies that use the IEEE 802.16 standard, promises an open wireless standard that can deliver, in theory, up to 70M bps data throughput at ranges of up to 31 miles. As the IEEE is quick to point out though, those kinds of WiMAX ranges and speeds are myths. A more practical line of sight range might be 10M bps at 10 miles. In a city environment, realistically you’ll be glad to see 10M bps at a mile range.
However, to get away from the line of sight requirements, when vendors today, such as the recent alliance of Sprint and Clearwire, talk about WiMAX, what they’re actually thinking about deploying is Mobile WiMAX.
Mobile WiMAX is based on the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard. This technology, in practice, should deliver 1 to 5Mbps throughput at a range of about a mile. Higher, burst rate speeds, up to its maximum of 40M bps, may also be possible.