Wireless Broadband Basics

By: Jeremy Maddock

Wireless broadband is a general term used for the technologythat is able to gain access to the internet wirelessly, and athigh bandwidth speeds. Wireless broadband is available onvirtually any digital device, so long as it has the properconnectivity hardware. Such hardware can easily be attached tomost PDAs and laptop computers.

One of the most popular and well known wireless technologystandards is (Wireless Fidelity), which allows users to access the internetover a wireless Local Area Network. The speed and range ofWi-Fi, however, is severely limited. There is another wirelessconnectivity standard, called , whichis considerably more advanced.

WiMAX is a protocol by which signals are sent to wirelessbroadband users. A WiMAX base station can theoretically beam asignal as far as 50km (31 miles), meaning that a single stationcould potentially cover an entire city (unlike Wi-Fi, which isonly available in "hotspots").

Although WiMAX are networks are available in several majormetropolitan areas in the US, base stations are very expensiveto build, and aren't cost effective in less densely populatedareas. Because of this limitation, WiMAX technology is not yetavailable in most non-urban regions.

Although WiMAX has been a major technological achievement,wireless broadband certainly doesn't stop there. There are anumber of other cutting edge wireless protocols currently indevelopment. The most notable of these is a new protocol calledxMax, which is similar to WiMAX, but a lot more efficient. Itcan cover a broader range at a lower cost, by piggybacking onradio frequencies. Although xMax is not yet available to thepublic, it will most likely be launched within the next coupleof years

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