Wimax: the expert view

Wimax is a communications standard designed to provide data wirelessly in much the same way that Wi-Fi does, but over longer distances.

Wimax

Wimax is a communications standard designed to provide data wirelessly in much the same way that Wi-Fi does, but over longer distances.

There are two flavours of Wimax, each of which address a specific type of wireless communication. 802.16d focuses on delivering fixed-mobile access - for example, in areas where laying cable to connect locations is expensive or difficult - and 802.16e, which focuses on delivering mobile access - for example, surfing the internet on a laptop when inside a moving vehicle.

Certification for the Wimax standard is expected to start in Q4 of 2007. At the moment, Wimax certification does not include interoperability testing.

Wimax can be used for connecting Wi-Fi hotspots with one another, providing a wireless alternative to cable and DSL, and for delivering nomadic connectivity.

The 802.16 specification can be used in a wide range of the radio-frequency spectrum. However, the fact that Wimax uses these frequencies does not mean that equipment has permission to use them.

There is no uniform global licensed spectrum for Wimax. Analogue TV bands may become available for Wimax use, but this awaits the complete roll-out of digital TV. Also, there will be other uses suggested for that spectrum.

EU commissioner Viviane Reding has suggested re-allocation of the 500-800 Mhz spectrum forwireless communication, including Wimax.

Intel is a leader in promoting Wimax, and has developed its own chipset. However, it is notable that most of the major semiconductor companies have so far been more cautious about involvement in the system.

Most current solutions come from specialist smaller or start-up suppliers. For client-side services, these include Altair, Beceem, GCI, Runcom and a number of others.

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