WiMAX is an IP based, wireless broadband access technology that provides performance similar to 802.11/Wi-Fi networks with the coverage and QOS (quality of service) of cellular networks. WiMAX is also an acronym meaning
"Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access" (WiMAX).
WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE 802.16 that is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks". WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access (BWA) up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 - 10 miles (5 - 15 km) for mobile stations. In contrast, the WiFi/802.11 wireless local area network standard is limited in most cases to only 100 - 300 feet (30 - 100m).
The most recent versions of both WiMAX standards in 802.16 cover spectrum ranges from at least the 2 GHz range through the 66 GHz range.
a. WiMAX Features
WiMAX is a wireless broadband solution that offers a rich set of features with a lot of flexibility in terms of deployment options and potential service offerings. Some of the more salient features that deserve highlighting are as follows:
Two Types of Services: WiMAX can provide two forms of wireless service:
Non-line-of-sight: service is a Wi-Fi sort of service. Here a small antenna on your computer connects to the WiMAX tower. In this mode, WiMAX uses a lower frequency range- 2 GHz to 11 GHz (similar to Wi-Fi).
Line-of-sight: service, where a fixed dish antenna points straight at the WiMAX tower from a rooftop or pole. The line-of-sight connection is stronger and more stable, so it's able to send a lot of data with fewer errors. Line-of-sight transmissions use higher frequencies, with ranges reaching a possible 66 GHz.
OFDM-based physical layer: The WiMAX physical layer (PHY) is based on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, a scheme that offers good resistance to multipath, and allows WiMAX to operate in NLOS conditions.
Very high peak data rates: WiMAX is capable of supporting very high peak data rates. In fact, the peak PHY data rate can be as high as 74Mbps when operating using a 20MHz wide spectrum. More typically, using a 10MHz spectrum operating using TDD scheme with a 3:1 downlink-to-uplink ratio, the peak PHY data rate is about 25Mbps and 6.7Mbps for the downlink and the uplink, respectively.
Scalable bandwidth and data rate support: WiMAX has a scalable physical-layer architecture that allows for the data rate to scale easily with available channel bandwidth. For example, a WiMAX system may use 128, 512, or 1,048-bit FFTs (fast Fourier transforms) based on whether the channel bandwidth is 1.25MHz, 5MHz, or 10MHz, respectively. This scaling may be done dynamically to support user roaming across different networks that may have different bandwidth allocations.
Despite an increasingly globalize economy, spectrum resources for wireless broadband worldwide are still quite disparate in its allocations. Mobile WiMAX technology therefore, is designed to be able to scale to work in different canalizations from 1.25 to 20 MHz to comply with varied worldwide requirements.