Tuesday, Jun 18th

Last update12:59:40 PM GMT

WiMAX Explained 'Simply'

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Basic and prevalent networking technologies are asked in interviews to test candidates' awareness of the latest happenings in the world of computer science. Be prepared to be asked a question suddenly on any unheard-of technology because you never know it might be the one you are going to work on in your first assignment as a software engineer!


First things first: Broadband internet is defined as one in which download speeds exceed 256kbps. Indian govt regulations, however, defined broadband as anything above 128kbps (probably due to the fact that the first so called 'broadband service' was provided by MTNL and its speed was no more than 128kbps!). We'll stick to the 256kbps definition.


WiMAX can be called the successor of Wi-Fi. In simple terms, WiMAX will (will, because work on WiMAX is on-going) do to broadband internet access, what the cell phone did for the wired telephone service—give you access to the Internet while you’re on the move. 

So what is the difference between Wi-Fi and WiMAX? The difference is the range. Its like you have a WLL* phone like Tata Walkie Talkie and a Mobile Phone. Like the Walkie Talkie, with Wi-Fi you have to be in the vicinity of the router which is providing you access to the internet. With WiMAX, there is no limitation. Obviously the speed would also increase (it claims to provide broadband like speeds), but more than that WiMAX is truely Wireless.

You don't have to be near to any router to access high speed internet. Anywhere you go, your internet walks with you.#

WiMAX coverage Area

The big towers that you see are similar to the telecom mobile towers. Just like you can use your mobile phones anywhere, these WiMAX towers will enable you to access the internet from anywhere within the coverage area.

More Info

  • WiMAX is a Wide Area Network (WAN) technology.
  • WiMAX is not here to replace Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi are compatible technologies. When you are in the vicinity of a Wi-Fi router, you can access internet through Wi-Fi. Outside there is always WiMAX. The choice would be yours.
  • WiMAX is an open standards technology (just like Linux is, but in a different sense). WiMAX deployment is taken care of by the WiMAX Forum, a large industry- wide collaboration (involving companies like Motorola, Nokia, Cisco, Intel and Samsung) that works to ensure that WiMAX service and products work together seamlessly.
  • Mobile WiMAX is based on the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard

A Note: Have you wondered why is it that there is so much hype around all these new technologies of mobile communication? the reason is broadband access. As broadband speeds on your computers increase manifold, telecom service providers are trying to emulate the same on your mobile phones as well. If you have a 2 mbps wired broadband connection at home, why not have the same speed of data download on your cell phone as well! That is the main reason why new technologies like 3G, WiMAX are flourishing..and newer technologies like 4G are ready to be deployed!

*WLL - Wireless Local Loop - a technology which allows your fixed wired landline to become wireless, but only within a certain area or range.

#This is the same thing which USB internet like TATA photon does. It provides you internet on the move by connecting to the TATA indicom telecom towers. The difference is that this form of internet access is slow and they charge you a lot.

image source: Intel

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