Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access


An organization founded in 2001 that promotes the *IEEE 802.16 wireless broadband standard and provides certification for devices for compliant devices. WiMAX is designed to extend local Wi-Fi networks across greater distances such as a campus, as well as to provide last mile connectivity to an ISP or other carrier many miles away. In addition, Mobile WiMAX offers a voice and higher-speed data alternative to the cellular networks.

*The IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access

Standards, which was established by IEEE Standards Board in 1999 , aims to prepare formal specifications for the global deployment of broadband Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks. The Workgroup is a unit of the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee. A related future technology Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA) is under development in IEEE 802.20.


Fixed WIMAX : is

developed based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard and is optimized for fixed and nomadic applications in LOS and NLOS environments *.

Mobile WIMAX : is based

on the IEEE 802.16e standard and targeted primarily for portable and mobile applications in NLOS environment.
*Line-of-sight (LOS) is a condition where a
signal travels over the air directly from a wireless transmitter to a wireless receiver without passing an obstruction.

non-line-of-sight (NLOS) is a condition where a signal from a wireless transmitter passes several obstructions before arriving at a wireless receiver. The signal may be reflected, refracted, diffracted, absorbed or scattered




In practical terms, WiMAX would operate similar to WiFi but at higher speeds, over greater distances and for a greater number of users. WiMAX could potentially erase the suburban and rural blackout areas that currently have no broadband Internet access because phone and cable companies have not yet run the necessary wires to those remote locations.

A WiMAX tower, similar in concept to a cell-phone tower A single WiMAX tower can provide coverage to a very large area -- as big as 3,000 square miles (~8,000 square km). A WiMAX receiver - The receiver and antenna could be a small box or PCMCIA card, or they could be built into a laptop the way WiFi access is today


Many companies are closely examining WiMAX for "last mile" connectivity at high data rates. This could result in lower pricing for both home and business customers as competition lowers prices. In areas without pre-existing physical cable or telephone networks, WiMAX may be a viable alternative for broadband access that has been economically unavailable. Prior to WiMAX, many operators have been using proprietary fixed wireless technologies for broadband services. WiMAX operates on the same general principles as WiFi -- it sends data from one computer to another via radio signals. A computer (either a desktop or a laptop) equipped with WiMAX would receive data from the WiMAX transmitting station, probably using encrypted data keys to prevent unauthorized users from stealing access.

There is the non-line-of-sight, WiFi sort of service, where a small antenna on your computer connects to the tower. In this mode, WiMAX uses a lower frequency range -- 2 GHz to 11 GHz (similar to WiFi). Lower-wavelength transmissions are not as easily disrupted by physical obstructions -they are better able to diffract, or bend, around obstacles. There is line-of-sight service, where a fixed dish antenna points straight at the WiMAX tower from a rooftop or pole. The line-of-sight connection is stronger and more stable, so it's able to send a lot of data with fewer errors. Line-of-sight transmissions use higher frequencies, with ranges reaching a possible 66 GHz. At higher frequencies, there is less interference and lots more bandwidth.



WiMAX is a long range (many kilometers) system that uses licensed spectrum to deliver a point-to-point connection to the Internet from an ISP to an end user. Different 802.16 standards provide different types of access, from mobile (analogous to access via a cellphone) to fixed (an alternative to wired access, where the end user's wireless termination point is fixed in location.) Wi-Fi is a shorter range (range is typically measured in hundreds of meters) system that uses unlicensed spectrum to provide access to Internet or intranet resources. The fastest WiFi connection can transmit up to 54 megabits per second under optimal conditions. WiMAX should be able to handle up to 70 megabits per second. Even once that 70 megabits is split up between several dozen businesses or a few hundred home users, it will provide at least the equivalent of cable-modem transfer rates to each user The biggest difference isn't speed; it's distance. WiMAX outdistances WiFi by miles. WiFi's range is about 100 feet (30 m). WiMAX will blanket a radius of 30 miles (50 km) with wireless access. The increased range is due to the frequencies used and the power of the transmitter. Of course, at that distance, terrain, weather and large buildings will act to reduce the maximum range in some circumstances, but the potential is there to cover huge tracts of land.


Connecting Wi-Fi hotspots with each other and to other parts of the Internet for home and office use. Providing a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for last mile (last km) broadband access. Providing 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.

Syed Shakeel Muslim Zaidi

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