What is WiMax?

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a family of wireless communications standards for broadband wireless access based on IEEE 802.16 standard. WiMax offers fixed and mobile Internet access in a wide area. The last WiMAX revision in 2010 provided up to 40 Mbit/s access speed. IEEE 802.16 standard is expected to increase the speed up to 1 Gbit/s.
The name "WiMAX" was created by the WiMAX Forum, which was formed in June 2001 to promote conformity and interoperability of the standard. The forum describes WiMAX as "a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL".
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Some of the most important features of WiMax technology are as follows:

1- High Data Transmission Rate
Employing MIMO (Multi Input, Multi Output) antennas as well as sub-channeling, coding and advanced modulation, WiMax is able to deliver downloading and uploading speeds of 63 Mbit/s and 25 Mbit/s respectively.

2- Quality of Service
Quality of Service (QoS) is a basic principle of MAC architecture in IEEE 802.16 standard. This standard defines service flows that can be mapped to code points (CP) in differentiated services (DiffServ) or to flow labels in Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

3- Security
WiMax features are based on Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Cipher-based Message Authentication Code (CMAC) and Hash-based Message Authentication Code (HMAC).

4- Wide Coverage
The most prominent feature of WiMax is its wide range coverage compared to WiFi. Theoretically, WiMax coverage can blanket a 30-mile (50 km) radius. Although in practice this is reduced to 10 km, but compared to its preceding technologies, e.g. WiFi, it is a huge step forward.

5- Mobility
Another important feature is its ability to maintain connectivity in mobile stations.

6- Intermediate Stations
WiMax radio waves are transmitted to users from base stations. Specific hardware implementations are used in these stations to provide WiMax coverage in an area. Since each station covers a limited range, these hardware devices can be linked together to increase the coverage range.

7- Accessibility
Access to WiMax is easy and requires no technical knowledge.

8- Scalability
WiMax Technology is designed so that it can function in the channel bandwidth ranges from 1.25 M to 20 MHz. accordingly, network implementation is made easy with small changes in Air Interface. Depending on the consumption model, based on service type and open frequency spectrum, WiMax can be implemented on different frequencies. Based on their various local needs, this feature enables countries to efficiently use this technology for multiple purposes, e.g. for having mobile broadband access to the Internet in subways and suburbia.

WiMax Practical Applications

WiMax's wide coverage and high bandwidth makes it suitable in the following applications:

  • Feasibility of wireless Broadband connection in-between cities and countries through various devices.
  • Providing an alternative to DSL and cable broadband connections.
  • Providing a source for Internet access so that it can be used in consistent business planning.
  • Providing data and VoIP services as well as Internet-based television.
  • Providing broadband connection

    Various companies are currently employing WiMax to provide both mobile and home users with broadband connections in different areas of cities throughout the world. This has led to competitive markets where DSL and other similar technologies have been previously used.
    Moreover, low cost of implementing a WiMax network as compared with GSM, optical fiber and DSL networks has led to broadband access in areas where economic issues were a barrier.

  • Backhaul

    WiMax can be a replacement for cellphone technologies such as GSM and CDMA. Fixed WiMax is also considered a wireless backhaul technology for G2, G3 and G4 networks in developed as well as developing countries. Using WiMax, we are able to create point-to-point connections in 30-mile distances (50 km) with a transmission rate that can support multiple E1 and T1 lines. Therefore, this technology can be used to connect base stations to switching centers. Traffic in mobile (cellular) networks is a combination of voice and data, which is a perfect fit for the intrinsic WiMax QoS feature.

  • Triple-Play Service

    By supporting services such as QoS and multicasting, WiMax is capable of providing Triple-Play services. This means that in addition to fast, broadband connections to the Internet, WiMax operator can provide VoIP and IPTV services to customers.

  • Banking Networks

    Big banks can use private WiMax networks for connecting branches and ATM machines to the same network. Such banks are generally expanded in different areas and require high security and bandwidth, which are met by the intrinsic features of WiMax.
    Additionally, WiMax can be used in many other private and public networks, e.g. educational environments and public safety networks such as firefighting and police networks.

  • Cost Optimization

    From an investment perspective, high throughput and optimized usage of frequency spectrum enables an operator to transmit more traffic using fewer stations for a fixed amount of data. Fewer BSs result in lower network investment costs and consequently lower network equipment maintenance costs, which ultimately lowers operating costs. Due to lower license costs for frequency spaces as compared with other technologies like third generation UMTS, lower amounts of investments are required, which leads to lower service tariffs.