WiMAX is an acronym for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. It is an assortment of technical specifications called 802.16. The technology used in WiMAX enables wireless transmission of broadband internet over distances in the range of up to 50 km. The technology has been under development for well over a decade now. A WiMAX transmitter can pass diverse signals such as voice, video and data over a single carrier. The rate of transmission can be up to 70 megabits per second, which is sufficient to provide high speed access to about 60 businesses at T1 speeds. If translated into the terms of DSL speeds, a single WiMAX transmitter can serve up to a thousand homes.
Technologies providing high speed wireless internet are nothing new. However these technologies were targeted to a niche market and the specialized equipment for receiving the signals have so far been very expensive. However WiMAX has been planned in a much larger scale. Computing and communication firms over the world are working on a consensus for the WiMAX standards such as how to encrypt WiMAX signals and which frequencies to use. This in turn will help mass manufacture of WiMAX enabled chips, bringing down the costs of receivers in the $50-$100 price range.
Another area where WiMAX can be applied is large area public venues like airports, university and office campuses and communities. Large numbers of small and medium sized businesses will be able to access high speed wireless internet at significantly lower costs than T1 lines. Further, WiMAX is a good option to reach high speed internet to areas where wired connectivity is not viable.
Last mile connectivity is the area that currently constitutes as much as 40% of the operation costs of the broadband service provider. Providing wired connection to the end user takes large investment of resources in terms of men, material and time. Establishing WiMAX towers can reduce these requirements and improve service quality.
Further, WiMAX can bring such diverse services as VoIP, video and internet under a single umbrella, resulting in better prices for the end user. The range and scope of WiMAX can eliminate captive customer bases of current telephone and cable operators and increase competition.
WiMAX is also interoperable with cellular networks. The greater bandwidth enables a wide variety of data intensive applications. In countries where wired infrastructure is not highly developed, installing a WiMAX tower will be the less expensive option to developing wired connectivity.
Mobile Wireless Access
The IEEE 802.16e standard is also being simultaneously developed for wireless access from laptops PDAs and iPods. The IEEE 802.16e may be hailed as a third generation telecommunications technology. It is expected that 802.16e-enabled laptops will reach the market by early 2007.
Analysts predict that disaster back up is going to be another crucial area where WiMAX will find wide application. The wireless link can serve either as a primary or secondary connection. Consider that any mishap that affects one terrestrial link is also likely to cut off the other. An airborne link makes far more sense in such a scenario.
This is an emerging trend of the current decade. Disaster recovery was not a serious concern to firms prior to 2001. Today more and more companies are accommodating for disaster back up in their budgets. WiMAX is again a more cost effective option for this purpose than a T1 line. It is possible to have a full T1 line’s equivalent of bandwidth as backup for as less as $175 a month.
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