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What’s WiMAX all about?

Feb 01, 20062 mins

* Where to go to find out more about WiMAX

Last week, when we discussed how WiMAX could be used to offer wireless broadband, we got several comments and questions back about the technology. Today, we’d like to answer some of our readers’ queries.

First, we had several questions about how WiMAX worked. The official WiMAX standards can be found in the IEEE 802.16 standard, which is available at the IEEE Web site, but for those who would rather not read through standards and working group studies, we recommend several other sources. The WiMAX Forum is an industry consortium formed to promote and certify broadband wireless products and readers can visit its Web site for more information.

The latest WiMAX information and news can be found through the search engine function at You should also take a look at Network World’s Wireless in the Enterprise newsletter, written by our colleague Joanie Wexler, who frequently discusses WiMAX issues. Archives of her newsletter can be found here – you can use the newsletter’s search field to locate WiMAX-focused newsletters.

Another of one our favorite papers that discusses both Wi-Fi and WiMAX and can be found at Webtorials (PDF).

And for those who just can’t get enough information, our Google search revealed over 31 million mentions of WiMAX.

Several readers asked for details on the distance range of WiMAX. Our research showed that the theoretical limit between WiMAX access points is up to 30 miles. However, real-life deployment feedback have reported ranges from 1 to 3 miles and 3 to 7 miles. (For those more familiar with metric distances, this implies a range from about 1.6 to about 11 kilometers in actual live deployments.)

As with any radio-based technology, environmental conditions do affect the actual effective range and bandwidth although WiMAX is not restricted by line-of-site connections.

We also had a few questions about real-life bandwidth capacity. We have found reports that WiMAX transmissions can consistently deliver 70Mbps, although one reader reported his company has had success with up to 300Mbps using WiMAX for wireless back-haul. We expect that – as with other transmission technologies – WiMAX will follow Moore’s Law of doubling every 18 months when it comes to delivering increasingly available bandwidth.