Writer is an IT Consultant
June 12 - 18, 2006

WiMAX is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business.

Setting up a broadband connection through Digital Subscriber Line or DSL includes heavy installation charges. WiMAX, on the other hand, is a comparatively less expensive alternative to DSL, as it doesn't require any modem or cables to get a WiMAX connection. The maintenance cost is also reduced with WiMAX connection.

WiMAX is all set to hit the fixed access market for the time being whereas the basic & full mobility WiMAX is the goal for the year 2010. Wireless WiMAX is where most of the silicon and large-scale equipment makers seem to be more interested in investing.

Pakistan plans largest mobile WiMax rollout in the world

Pakistan will be rolling out the largest mobile WiMax network yet. 802.16e is getting more industry backing than the fixed WiMax, As part of the deal, Motorola is providing Wateen Telecom with an 802.16e-based MOTOwi4 network. An initial uptake of a million subscribers is expected, with a nationwide rollout to follow.

Wateen Telecom is one of major telecommunication companies based at Lahore, Pakistan. Wateen Telecom is the Abu Dhabi Group's latest communication investment in Pakistan. After the successful launch of Warid Telecom in Pakistan, which provides mobile GSM services to over 4 million customers in 100 cities, Wateen Telecom has been set up to become the leading "Carrier's Carrier" providing quality, reliability and affordability in the communication sector and bringing Next Generation services to Pakistan.

As a developing country, Pakistan has until now lacked the infrastructure for widespread broadband. This deployment is a milestone in the spread of WiMax. The 802.16-2004 standard, which is used in fixed WiMax networks, is being skipped in favour of a large-scale rollout of 802.16e, which was only recently agreed upon by the WiMAX Forum.

802.16e addresses mobility needs and as such can have a larger market. People want more convenience and demand more mobility in solutions.

Motorola is really focusing on the mobile version, as are Alcatel and Siemens. Mobile WiMax is going to be something for the big players, as opposed to fixed WiMax where they set up OEM agreements with smaller vendors. The comparatively better performance and flexibility of WiMAX will enable this technology to takeover the high-speed wireless segment in the next 3 years. Approximately half of the world consumer market will be captured by Wireless Networking standard 802.11n in the next 2-3 years. WiMAX will be the most popular standard in the coming years.


WiMAX has been helping in emergencies. Technology assistance provided by Giant American companies for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts allowed victims to get back on their feet and help the region rebuild.

More than 2,300 wireless laptops for American Red Cross shelters and 150 wireless hotspots were donated, and WiMAX was deployed for the first aid workers and volunteers who were going around looking for victims. Technical solutions have proved to be important to the relief and recovery, and in helping rebuild lives.

WiMAX works on microwave much like your micro wave oven or your cell phone. It is a good alternative to cable and DSL. It is designated very much like metropolitan area network (MAN) technology that can connect IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) hotspots with each other and to other parts of the Internet and provide a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for last mile (last km) broadband access.

Field of use is broader and overlaps those for mobile WAN and WLANs. IEEE 802.16 provides up to 50 km of linear service area range and allows connectivity between users without a direct line of sight. Practical limits from real tests seem to be around 5 to 8 kilometers. The technology has been claimed to provide shared data rates up to 70 Mbit/s, which, according to WiMAX proponents, is enough bandwidth to simultaneously support more than 60 businesses with T1-type connectivity and over a thousand homes at 1Mbit/s DSL-level connectivity. Users can now have a better multimedia experience.

There is also interesting potential for interoperability of WiMAX with legacy cellular networks. WiMAX antennas can "share" a cell tower without compromising the function of cellular arrays already in place. WiMAX antennae may be even connected to an Internet backbone via either a light fiber optics cable or a directional microwave link. Some cellular companies are evaluating WiMAX as a means of increasing bandwidth for a variety of data-intensive applications. In line with these possible applications is the technology's ability to serve as a very high bandwidth "back-haul" for Internet or cellular phone traffic from remote areas back to a backbone.

In USA companies like Sprint, Towerstream, are offering WiMax. In China, Dalian and Chengdu have implemented WiMAX networks that are upgradeable.

Alcatel, Ericson and Motorolla are working towards open standards to enable internetworking between vendor equipment. On the other hand companies like BT and Swisscom are working to define common technical standards so users can move networks on one device without any service interruptions.