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What is WiMax?
- Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access

WiMAX
A wireless wide area network (WWAN) technology that conforms to certain parts of the IEEE 802.16 standard. WiMAX's focus is the WirelessMAN-OFDMA air interface in the 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz bands.

Governed by the WiMAX Forum (www.wimaxforum.org), WiMAX allows ISPs and carriers to offer last mile connectivity to homes and businesses without having to route wires. In addition, Mobile WiMAX provides high-speed data for users on the go, even in fast trains. Whereas Wi-Fi hotspot coverage is measured in feet, WiMAX cells are measured in miles similar to the cellular systems. WiMAX competes with the cellular carriers' 4G LTE service.

WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless communications standard designed to provide 30 to 40 megabit-per-second data rates, with the 2011 update providing up to 1 Gbit/s for fixed stations. It is a part of a "fourth generation," or 4G, of wireless-communication technology. WiMax far surpasses the 30-metre (100-foot) wireless range of a conventional Wi-Fi local area network (LAN), offering a metropolitan area network with a signal radius of about 50 km (30 miles).

WiMAX forum describes WiMAX as "a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL".

WiMax offers data-transfer rates that can be superior to conventional cable-modem and DSL connections, however, the bandwidth must be split among multiple users and thus yields lower speeds in practice.



WiMAX Femto Access Points

WiMAX femtocells improve coverage within a building. A "WiMAX femto access point" (WFAP) is a small, indoor base station with a limited range. It connects to the organization's network and passes data to the WiMAX carrier's network via the Internet (see femtocell).

    femtocell Close

    An indoor cellular access point that routes cellphone calls over the Internet. Connecting to the home or office network, which must have a broadband Internet connection, the femtocell is a mini cell tower with a range of approximately 5,000 square feet. When users are within range, their phones pick up the stronger femtocell signal rather than a weaker signal from an external cell tower.

    Femtocell
    The femtocell is like a mini cell tower inside the home or office that routes cellphone calls over the Internet to the carrier's network. Close

Google, Clearwire and WiMAX

In 2008, Sprint and Clearwire merged to develop Internet access to mobile devices using WiMAX, rather than the traditional CDMA and GSM cellular technologies. Google also invested in the venture (see Clearwire).

    femtocell Close

    A wireless Internet service provider that offers WiMAX under the CLEAR brand. Founded in 2003 by Craig McCaw, Clearwire merged its WiMAX network with Sprint Nextel's Xohm-branded WiMAX network in 2008. CLEAR is geared to people who travel with their laptops. With 4G download speeds up to 6 Mbps, it provides a faster alternative to the 3G cellular offerings of other carriers. Clearwire also offers a voice over IP (VoIP) service.

Mobile phones

HTC announced the first WiMAX enabled mobile phone, the Max 4G, on November 12, 2008. The device was only available to certain markets in Russia on the Yota network.

HTC and Sprint Nextel released the second WiMAX enabled mobile phone, the EVO 4G, March 23, 2010 at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas. The device, made available on June 4, 2010, is capable of both EV-DO(3G) and WiMAX(4G) as well as simultaneous data & voice sessions. The same applies to the HTC Evo 3D, which was released in 2011. A number of WiMAX Mobiles are expected to hit the US market in late 2011 and into 2012.

WiMax vs LTE   |   What is LTE?


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4G is the short name for fourth-generation wireless, the stage of mobile communications that will enable things like IP-based voice, data, gaming services and high quality streamed multimedia on portable devices with cable modem-like transmission speeds. It's a successor to 2G and 3G wireless, whereby the first signified the shift from analog to digital transmissions, bringing data services like SMS and email to mobile phones for the first time, and the second refers to the advent of things like global roaming as well as higher data rates.