In this article we will talk about wimax in detail. WiMAX is a technology standard that enables Wireless transmission of data at broadband data rate.
WiMAX(Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is one of those telecommunication technologies, which have been quoted as the ‘Future of Data Communication’ by many industry experts and there are enough reasons for WiMAX to be called so.
WiMAX is basically a technology that enables Wireless transmission of data packets at broadband data rate. It empowers computer or mobile terminals with enhanced mobility and ability to access ‘High Speed Internet’ without the need of connecting the terminal to any cable network or Wi-Fi hotspot.
WiMAX is often confused with Wi-Fi, another wireless telecommunication standard, but both of these standards are much different in terms of infrastructure pre-requisites and network capabilities. Wi-Fi is basically a limited wireless extension of the conventional wired telecommunications network, using which we can access wireless internet within a small range of 10-100m from the Wi-Fi access point, whereas WiMAX provides long range wireless internet access at broadband speed, with the help of a dedicated network infrastructure, built exclusively for wireless data communication at much higher speed.
Below are facts related to WiMAX, which elaborate the concept, fundamentals and technical details of WiMAX:
Definition: Technically, WiMAX is a Broadband Wireless Access technology based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, which enables high speed packet data access on a mobile terminal (laptop, smartphone..) without any access point dependency
Types: There have been majorly two developments with regard to WirelessMAN broadband: Fixed WiMAX and Mobile WiMAX. The earlier of the two WirelessMAN standards,Fixed WiMAX(or IEEE 802.16d) employs High gain-low portability uni-directional antenna at user’s end and provides a limited wireless broadband access. It supports following sub-channels: Single High Gain carrier, OFDM 256 FFT(Fast Fourier Transform) and OFDMA 1K-FFT
Mobile WiMAX(or IEEE 802.16e) takes the Wireless broadband access to much larger coverage area as it employs Low gain-High portability Omni-directional antennas at user’s end(in the form of Flash drive sized modem). Mobile WiMAX supports not only Single carrier, OFDM 256 FFT and OFDMA 1K-FFT but also OFDMA 2K-FFT, 512-FFT and 128-FFT sub-channels
Infrastructure: Implementation of WiMAX requires a similar scale of basic telecommunication infrastructure, as built in case of a voice communication network(GSM, CDMA). Base Stations, sectorized antennas, control center and other critical constituents are generally a part of such infrastructure
Coverage: WiMAX network has often been claimed in media to be capable of providing broadband speeds to a coverage of over 30 miles(with a single base station) but that’s possible only in ideal conditions(Line-Of-Sight(LOS) area, No real-time traffic, negligible attenuation..). Practically, a single base station can provide a satisfactory broadband access within a range of 4-5 miles(Non-LOS and real-time traffic conditions). With LOS conditions, the coverage can go upto 10 miles. Rest of the coverage and Quality-of-Service(QOS) details are solely dependent upon the terrain and population conditions
Terminology: IEEE 802.16 standard is generally referred as “WirelessMAN” but the term “WiMAX” was actually given to IEEE 802.16 standard by WiMAX Forum,founded in mid 2001 to take care of conformity, interoperability and promote the IEEE 802.16 standard(or Wireless broadband) at a global scale
Limitation: The major limitation of WiMAX is the effect of QOS in high traffic, non-LOS areas. It’s quite impractical for WiMAX networks to support over 40 Mbps of internet speed at a distance of 15-20 miles. This limitation is quite unavoidable and found in other wireless networking standards as well.
Future: The future of WiMAX looks brighter as there are already over 475 WiMAX networks deployed in 140 countries worldwide and the network extension is happening at a very fast pace. See the list of deployed WiMAX networks here. Also, as it offers a cheaper and more bandwidth-efficient way of providing Wireless broadband(compared to 3G), it is likely to become the De-Facto standard in Wireless Broadband services.