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A Review of WiMAX Technology

I have been teaching myself about WiMax technology  and have started a “living document” over on my Google Docs Drive.   I am setting this to a public “research paper” so anyone else interested in learning about this can review.

The Highlights

WiMAX is NOT the same as “4G”, at least not as it is thought of in the common American vernacular.   Most people mean “4G/LTE” not “4G WiMAX” when they say 4G.

Think of WiMAX as WiFi on steroids.

The specification is officially called 802.16, much like the WiFi 802.11 standard.   It too has suffixes like 802.16d/e similar to WiFi’s 802.11b/g/n which many people are familiar with.

Many countries, like Korea, have a sophisticated WiMAX network.  Many consumer devices, such as cell phones and tablets, that are sold in these countries have WiMAX built in.   Very much like American devices having WiFi built in.    Many devices that have WiMAX have WiFi and LTE or CDMA built in (wow, that is a lot of antennas and signal processors!)

As last mile (the piece from the hub on the street to your house) services fall behind the demand curve in America more & more people will be looking at WiMAX solutions as they come available.  Clear Communications has Clear WiMAX in a number of cities, as does Sprint.  As cable & legacy telephone companies continue to fail at meeting customer needs (I’m looking at YOU AT&T, Comcast, and Knology!) this will become far more prolific.

Building A WiMAX Network

Unfortunately the starting installation costs run nearly $15k for a single cell (not cell phone, though that is where the common name comes from, a cell is a radio signal “footprint” or range in which you can “see” it).     However, do it right and you can get an initial cell that covers 8 miles or MORE with 4Mbps to 30Mbps throughput.      Then you need to pay someone for connection to the Internet backbone, just  like putting WiFi in your home.    In Charleston a solid Fiber connection runs $100/Mb with price drops not coming until the 10Mbps level.      

However I still hope to either find funding or get enough cash on hand to build my first experimental Free Public WiMAX cell in Mount Pleasant.    Who knows, maybe Kick Starter or some other crowd funding can help.

I’d love to see  a donation based system where high speed internet is ubiquitous and DISRUPTIVE to the incumbent communication carriers.  In Charleston, at least, home Internet is still exceedingly expensive and quality of service sucks.

Let’s do something about that!

The Document

My more formal notes will go in here.   This is far from complete and I will be adding to it as I learn more and consider building out my own network.

Can’t see it in an iframe?   View my “A Review of WiMAX Technology” here.