What is WiMAX

WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) unites the technologies of wireless and broadband to provide high-speed internet access across long distances. The name was christened by WiMAX Forum that promotes interoperability and conformity of the standard. The forum defines the technology as “a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL”. With the guarantee of WiMAX Forum the vendors are authorized to sell their WiMAX certified products so they can enjoy operability with other products of same type. It is a telecommunication protocol capable of providing internet access to fixed and mobile users. For an outstanding performance like Wi-Fi networks along with QOS (Quality of Service) and coverage this Wireless Broadband Access (BAS) technology is assembled around IP (internet protocol). Currently it offers 40 Mbit/s but expected to offer 1 Gbit/s speed for fixed users.


IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) names this wireless digital communication system 802.16 that refers to MAN (Metropolitan Area Network). For stationary users a WiMAX station could provide BWA up to 50 kilometers or 30 miles where mobile stations could have up to 5 to 15 kilometers or 3 to 10 miles, contrary to a Wi-Fi connection whose access remain within 30 to 100 meters or 100 to 300 feet.
For wireless carriers, WiMAX provided feasible economic and environmentally regulated model that could function on not only licensed but also non-licensed frequencies. The purpose of WiMAX is to make sure the provision of interoperate in broadband wireless radio crafted for users from vendor to vendor.

wimax technology

The Architecture of WiMAX Forum WiMAX
The connectivity of WiMAX network with an IP based network normally selected by the operator serving as ISP (Internet Service Provider) could be understood by the architecture proposed by WiMAX Forum. Along with packet switched mobile network, the WiMAX BS is capable of integration with other architectures. Reference points and some components are defined between the labels of R1 to R5 and R8:

      1. The Access Service Network (ASN)
      2. The Subscriber Station/Mobile Station (SS/MS)
      3. Base Station (BS)
      4. The Connectivity Service Network (CSN
      5. Home Agent (HA)
      6. A part of ASN, its Gateway (ASN-GW)
      7. Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA)
      8. NSP (Network Service Provider)
      9. NAP (Network Access Provider)

It is possible to shape the functional architecture not into fixed configurations but into a number of hardware configurations: the flexible architecture allows BS of different sizes and static/moving stations of changing scale and functionality.

Potential Applications of WiMAX

Mobile WiMAX is the embodiment of WiMAX that has wide commercial interest nowadays and employed in a number of countries. Also named Wi-Fi on Steroids the technology is of multiple purposes such as cellular backhaul, broadband connections and hotspots. Although its functions resemble to Wi-Fi but it gives longer access range. With greater coverage the service is also cost-effective. Some of the applications are as follows:

  • A variety of devices enable WiMAX to provide portable mobile broadband connectivity across cities and continents. The markets that have only DSL operators for broadband provision have seen the growing competition with the advent of WiMAX .
  • As compared to technologies like 3G, FTTx, HFC, HSDPA and xDSL, WiMAX has low cost for network development.
  • A connection that grows with the expansion of business.
  • For last mile broadband the wireless WiMAC would most probably substitute cable and DSL or would be instilled for increasing capacity. In developed an developing countries, fixed WiMAX has been taken as a backhaul technology for 2G, 3G and 4G.
  • It supports QOS and Multicasting technologies that are helpful in triple-play services: telecommunications (VoIP), data and IPTV.

Connectivity with a WiMAX Network

For connecting with a WiMAX network several devices are available in the market known as SU (Subscriber Unit) with special focus on portable devices such as smart phones, inbuilt devices in notebooks and PC peripherals such as USB Dongles or PC cards.

The Gateway

A number of manufacturers provide outdoor and indoor versions of gateway devices. Some of the complete self-install indoor WiMAX gateways presented by industries are Greenpacket, Huawei, Motorola, ZyXEL and Airspan: the devices are usually installed near the window for uninterrupted signals. Such indoor gateways are very helpful but radio losses make it compulsory for the user to keep his or her seat near the base station (instead of staying near the external unit).
The size of outdoor units is proportionate to a notebook and installed just like a private satellite dish. For increased range a higher gain directional unit must be used but the task could be achieved at the most of mobility.

The Dongles & Smart Phones

The USB Dongles could be annexed with the notebook whilst on the go for WiMAX connectivity. Dongles work efficiently in areas that have good coverage due to the inbuilt omni-directional antennae.
The first WiMAX enabled handset Max 4G was announced by HTC and was available in limited markets. EVO 4G was the second smart phone with WiMAX released by Sprint Nextel and HTC in 2010. The device offers video conversation along with EV-Do (3G), WiMAX (4G) and data and voice sessions.