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Expert claims Wi-Fi is far from dead

Fixed wireless broadband is on the rise, and WiMax, the standardized version of fixed wireless broadband, will be available in some areas this year. With a theoretical range of 30 miles and a throughput of 72 Mbps, 802.16e-based chipsets are expected in laptops and other mobile devices by late 2006. With such range, throughput and mobility, will WiMax eclipse Wi-Fi? Should businesses kiss their wireless LANs goodbye?

Philip Solis, a senior analyst with the Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based research firm ABI Research, thinks not. Solis is convinced that businesses should plan to use both technologies. SearchNetworking.com sat down with him to find out why.

If 802.16e is adopted in laptops and desktops and PDAs, then it's possible that some could look at that and say...

'you don't need Wi-Fi.' But there are still going to be problems with coverage.


Philip Solis, senior analyst, ABI Research,
When WiMax rolls out in a few months, how will it be used?
There are already broadband wireless solutions out on the market today. WiMax will just be the standardized version of those fixed wireless systems. Initially, it will just be a low-cost replacement for T1 connections. How will the technology compare with Wi-Fi?
Fixed WiMax is really a wireless metropolitan area network and Wi-Fi is a wireless LAN. They shouldn't compete. Even when products with mobile WiMax chips based on the 802.16e standard get to market at the end of 2006, I don't think WiMax will replace Wi-Fi. It will take a while for those radios to get inside laptops. Wi-Fi will already be in laptops, cell phones and PDAs. WiMax is really more of a backhaul technology for Wi-Fi hot spots. And it will enable more versatility in terms of where hot spots can be deployed if they do not need a hard-wired back haul. Given its higher throughput, greater range and mobile capability, why won't WiMax replace Wi-Fi?
If 802.16e is adopted in laptops and desktops and PDAs, then it's possible that some could look at that and say 'you don't need Wi-Fi.' But there are still going to be problems with coverage. The signal will have problems penetrating walls. You have to find a good place to put the radio to ensure that reception is good.
For more information

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Ultimately, what should enterprises keep in mind in terms of using both technologies?
Businesses need to see both of these technologies for what they are. Wi-Fi is perfect for indoor environments, for enabling laptop connectivity or voice over Wi-Fi. They are complementary technologies, not competing technologies. How should businesses consider using WiMax?
Businesses might want to give their employees' laptops with 802.16e radios in them because it will help them get connected on the road. The technology has the potential to make every place a hot spot. It depends on how economically feasible it is to build out the network. It may be more cost-effective to build out 3G networks even if speed is compromised, so it's hard to say. Are there security concerns with WiMax?
Every technology has security concerns, but users should not expect anything as serious as what we saw with Wi-Fi. As far as I know, there are no known major security concerns today.

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