WIMAX is relatively new technology to provide wireless Internet access. This is an acronym for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. WIMAX technology was developed by WIMAX Forum (an industry consortium organized by leading communications, component and equipment companies) as an alternative to wire technologies. This technology represents the fourth generation of wireless Internet. So sometimes it is also called WIMAX 4G.
How WIMAX Works
WIMAX Internet is being transmitted via special WIMAX towers (just like GSM towers for cell phones). Unlike Wi-Fi, which coverage range is very limited, WIMAX coverage area is much bigger – one tower covers an area of approximately 50 km.
If you want to use WIMAX Internet, your receiving device should support this technology. For the moment there are WIMAX-enabled laptops and mobile phones available on the market. They are quite rare to find, but if you are lucky you will get built-in support for this technology. One of the solutions would be to purchase PCMCIA card for a laptop or a WIMAX modem.
- The main feature of WIMAX is that this is a wireless broadband technology. So you don’t need any cables to access the Internet and at the same time you can get the speed competitive to DSL and in some cases even cable Internet.
- It generally works similar to Wi-Fi but has much more powerful features. Comparing to Wi-Fi, WIMAX has higher connection speed and operates over longer distances. It also supports much more users for simultaneous access.
- WIMAX is cheaper than broadband wired DSL and cheaper than the majority of 3G service plans. And if you have concerns about WIMAX-enabled hardware, you can ask your potential ISP directly about that. Many Internet Service Providers, who offer WIMAX Internet service, will give you a WIMAX-enabled modem for the whole duration of your contract for free. As soon as you cancel the contract you just return this modem to them.
- WIMAX supports speeds of up to 70 Mbps providing quite stable connection. Similar to Wi-Fi, you don’t need to have a clear sight of a transmitting tower. And similar to Wi-Fi, any visible obstacles (buildings, walls) as well as weather conditions negatively affect the signal. Wi-Fi usually has the coverage range of just one building or maximum a city block. Unlike Wi-Fi, WIMAX is able to cover an area with a radius of around 50 km.
- There have been many attempts to adopt WIMAX wireless Internet as a new standard and make it widely used technology for broadband Internet access. For the moment it is still not very popular and mostly because of lack of specific WIMAX equipment (a hardware supporting WIMAX). However, this standard is available in many bigger cities in the U.S. like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas etc. So generally WIMAX coverage map is quite large and there are many Internet Service Providers offering WIMAX such as AT&T, Verizone, etc.
- In 2008 there has been even launched a company called Clearwire aiming to build a WIMAX network across the USA. This company has been invested by such corporations like Google, Comcast, Intel and several other ones. Nevertheless, for the moment WIMAX is considered to be an obsolete technology. But if for some reasons you have no other options in your area you can give it a try.