WiMax will operate in both licensed and unlicensed bands. Commercial operators will offer metro-wireless services, using licensed spectrum. For example, see Speakeasy's planned WiMax deployment in Seattle. Others -- including community networks -- will be able to use WiMax over unlicensed spectrum. Initially, WiMax (802.16-2004) will be used primarily for "backhaul" links. For example, Wi-Fi may be used to cover a small area, and WiMax may be used to interconnect the Wi-Fi APs, bringing traffic to/from a wired network connection (e.g., T1). Eventually, a mobile extension to WiMax (802.16e) may appear on user devices as well.
Even community networks may charge access fees to cover the cost of building and maintaining network infrastructure. For example, Wireless Philadelphia is a not-for-profit organization that plans to charge "dial up rates" for those who can afford it, while offering limited free access to those who cannot. WiMax and metro-mesh networks in general are expected to play an important role in community networks. And, as you point out, unlicensed spectrum can play a big role in keeping community network costs down.
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