WiMax to Make Wireless Broadband a Reality

The next big thing in wireless technology seems to be the new 802.16 standard that recently reached the final stages of development. More commonly known as WiMax, this new IEEE wireless standard has been dubbed by technology experts as "Wi-Fi on steroids." While Wi-Fi sends data at speeds ranging from 11 Mbps -54 Mbps over a range of 100 feet, WiMax is capable of sending data at speeds of 70 Mbps over distances up to 30 miles. Such technology would finally make wireless broadband a reality, posing a great challenge to existing DSL and cable-modem service providers. And with backing by Intel Corp., WiMax could eventually become as mainstream as Intel's Centrino microchip.

The first versions of WiMax equipment are scheduled to hit the market by year-end, with WiMax-powered portable devices expected by 2006. This means that early versions of WiMax will be used for fixed broadband, with roaming capabilities soon to follow. Experts believe that WiMax will also help bridge the digital divide, as installing WiMax access points in developing countries will be much less expensive than attempting to lay miles of coaxial cable or telephone lines.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.