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Maxed out on WiMAX?

Sep 27, 20042 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* WiMAX events abound

For a technology that hasn’t yet been officially deployed and faces lots of competition, there’s sure an awful lot of hubbub out there about WiMAX, a.k.a. IEEE 802.16. Over the next several weeks alone, there are at least three events dedicated to the wireless broadband hopeful:

* Emerging Broadband Wireless Technologies Summit, Sept. 28-29, San Jose.

* WiMAXcon, Oct. 6-7, in Los Angeles (collocated with the Internet Telephony show).

* WiMAX World, Nov. 2-4 in Boston.

As a refresher, WiMAX is really an informal moniker for a set of standards specifying both fixed and mobile wireless last-mile technology. Its coverage and bandwidth potential is greater than that of Wi-Fi: WiMAX might support up to 75M bit/sec of shared bandwidth, serving potentially hundreds of business subscribers within a cell size of three to five miles from base station to CPE.

“WiMAX” refers to the WiMAX Forum, a vendor consortium that will certify standards compliance with 802.16-based products (and those based on a European derivative, HiperMAN), as well as interoperability with other WiMAX-certified products.

Specifically, 802.16-2004 is the standard for “fixed” wireless last-mile technology in the sub-11-GHz band. It’s a potential alternative to DSL, cable modem and T-1 services, for example. Early standard-compliant products are due out this year.

Prestandard products are on the market and prestandard broadband last-mile services based on them are already available from carriers such as TransAria in the Northwest and Clearwire (Craig McCaw’s latest company) in Jacksonville, Fla.

Approval of 802.16e, a set of standards for mobile wireless broadband networking, is expected in the second half of 2005 with services to follow, potentially, sometime in 2006. They could perhaps give 3G cellular services a run for their money.

Next time: The challenges WiMAX faces.