WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access)

WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless industry coalition dedicated to the advancement of IEEE 802.16 standards for broadband wireless access (BWA) networks.

WiMAX supports mobile, nomadic and fixed wireless applications. A mobile user, in this context, is someone in transit, such as a commuter on a train. A nomadic user is one that connects on a portable device but does so only while stationary -- for example, connecting to an office network from a hotel room and then again from a coffee shop. Fixed wireless typically refers to wireless connectivity among non-mobile devices in homes or businesses.

According to the WiMAX forum, the group's aim is to promote and certify compatibility and interoperability of devices based on the 802.16 specification, and to develop such devices for the marketplace. WiMAX is expected to provide about 10 megabits per second of upload and download, at a distance of 10 kilometers from a base station. The Forum says that over 455 WiMAX networks have been deployed in over 135 countries.

In May of 2008, Sprint and Clearwire announced that they would be combining their WiMAX businesses. Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks combined to invest $3.2 billion in Clearwire. The company has begun deployment of a planned nationwide 4G network in the United States as Clear WiMax wireless broadband services. Comcast and Time Warner Cable have announced that they will resell the service in areas where they have cable coverage.

WiMAX is competing with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)'s Long-Term Evolution (LTE) in the 4G market.

This was last updated in November 2010

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