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WiMAX is an IP based, wireless broadband access technology that provides

performance similar to 802.11/Wi-Fi networks with the coverage and QOS

(quality of service) of cellular networks. WiMAX is also an acronym
meaning "Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX).

WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE

802.16 that is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks". WiMAX
can provide broadband wireless access (BWA) up to 30 miles (50 km) for
fixed stations, and 3 - 10 miles (5 - 15 km) for mobile stations. In contrast,
the WiFi/802.11 wireless local area network standard is limited in most
cases to only 100 - 300 feet (30 - 100m).

With WiMAX, WiFi-like data rates are easily supported, but the issue of
interference is lessened. WiMAX operates on both licensed and non-licensed
frequencies, providing a regulated environment and viable economic model
for wireless carriers.

At its heart, however, WiMAX is a standards initiative. Its purpose is to

ensure that the broadband wireless radios manufactured for customer use
interoperate from vendor to vendor. The primary advantages of the WiMAX
standard are to enable the adoption of advanced radio features in a uniform
fashion and reduce costs for all of the radios made by companies, who are
part of the WiMAX Forum™ - a standards body formed to ensure
interoperability via testing. The more recent Long Term Evolution (LTE)
standard is a similar term describing a parallel technology to WiMAX that is
being developed by vendors and carriers as a counterpoint to WiMAX.

What is WiMAX?

WiMAX has the potential to replace a number of existing

telecommunications infrastructures. In a fixed wireless configuration it can
replace the telephone company's copper wire networks, the cable TV's
coaxial cable infrastructure while offering Internet Service Provider (ISP)
services. In its mobile variant, WiMAX has the potential to replace cellular
networks. How do we get there?
Figure 1 WiMAX has the potential to impact all forms of
What is WiMAX or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access?

WiMAX is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

standard designated 802.16-2004 (fixed wireless applications) and 802.16e-
2005 (mobile wire-less). The industry trade group WiMAX Forum has
defined WiMAX as a "last mile" broadband wireless access (BWA)
alternative to cable modem service, telephone company Digital Subscriber
Line (DSL) or T1/E1 service.

Fixed WiMAX

Figure 2 Fixed WiMAX offers cost effective point to point and point to multi-
point solutions
What makes WiMAX so exciting is the broad range of applications it makes
possible but not limited to broadband internet access, T1/E1 substitute for
businesses, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) as telephone company
substitute, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) as cable TV substitute,
backhaul for Wi-Fi hotspots and cell phone towers, mobile telephone
service, mobile data TV, mobile emergency response services, wireless
backhaul as substitute for fiber optic cable.

WiMAX provides fixed, portable or mobile non-line-of sight service from a

base station to a subscriber station, also known as customer premise
equipment (CPE). Some goals for WiMAX include a radius of service
coverage of 6 miles from a WiMAX base station for point-to-multipoint,
non-line-of-sight (see following pages for illustrations and definitions)
service. This service should deliver approximately 40 megabits per second
(Mbps) for fixed and portable access applications. That WiMAX cell site
should offer enough bandwidth to support hundreds of businesses with T1
speeds and thousands of residential customers with the equivalent of DSL
services from one base station.

Mobile WiMAX
Figure 3 Mobile WiMAX allows any telecommunications to go mobile

Mobile WiMAX takes the fixed wireless application a step further and
enables cell phone-like applications on a much larger scale. For example,
mobile WiMAX enables streaming video to be broadcast from a speeding
police or other emergency vehicle at over 70 MPH. It potentially replaces
cell phones and mobile data offerings from cell phone operators such as
EvDo, EvDv and HSDPA. In addition to being the final leg in a quadruple
play, it offers superior building penetration and improved security measures
over fixed WiMAX. Mobile WiMAX will be very valuable for emerging
services such as mobile TV and gaming.

WiMAX is not Wi-Fi

Figure 4 Where Wi-Fi covers an office or coffee shop, WiMAX covers a city

One of the most often heard descriptions of WiMAX in the press is that it is
"Wi-Fi on steroids". In truth, it is considerably more than that. Not only
does WiMAX offer exponentially greater range and throughput than Wi-Fi
(technically speaking 802.11b, although new variants of 802.11 offer
substantial improvements over the "b" variant of 802.11), it also offers
carrier grade quality of service (QoS) and security. Wi-Fi has been
notorious for its lack of security. The "b" variant of 802.11 offered no
prioritization of traffic making it less than ideal for voice or video. The
limited range and throughput of Wi-Fi means that a Wi-Fi service provider
must deploy multiple access points in order to cover the same area and
service the same number of customers as one WiMAX base station (note the
differences in nomenclature). The IEEE 802.11 Working group has since
approved upgrades for 802.11 security and QoS.

Converged voice and data easy as FM radio?

Figure 5 With WiMAX, converged voice and data can be as easy as FM


Visualize turning on an FM radio in your office. You receive information

(news, weather, sports) from that service (the FM radio station) and
hardware (the FM radio with attached antenna). WiMAX can be described
as being somewhat similar. In place of a radio station there is a base station
(radio and antenna that transmits information (internet access, VoIP, IPTV)
and the subscriber has a WiMAX CPE that receives the services. The major
difference is that with WiMAX the service is two-way or interactive.

Figure 6 WiMAX indoor CPE, courtesy Motorola

Wireless Architectures
The following section will provide a simple overview of wireless
concepts and nomenclature to help the reader understand how
WiMAX works and will assist the reader in communicating with
the WiMAX industry.

Wireless architecture: point-to-point and point-to-multipoint

There are two scenarios for a wireless deployment: point-to-point and point-
Figure 7: Point-to point and point-to-multipoint configurations

Point-to-point (P2P)

Point to point is used where there are two points of interest: one sender and
one receiver. This is also a scenario for backhaul or the transport from the
data source (data center, co-lo facility, fiber POP, Central Office, etc) to the
subscriber or for a point for distribution using point to multipoint
architecture. Backhaul radios comprise an industry of their own within the
wireless industry. As the architecture calls for a highly focused beam
between two points range and throughput of point-to point radios will be
higher than that of point-to-multipoint products.

Point-to-Multipoint (PMP)

As seen in the figure above, point-to-multipoint is synonymous with

distribution. One base station can service hundreds of dissimilar subscribers
in terms of bandwidth and services offered.

Line of sight (LOS) or Non-line of sight (NLOS)?

Figure 8: The difference between line of sight and non-line of sight

Earlier wireless technologies (LMDS, MMDS for example) were

unsuccessful in the mass market as they could not deliver services in non-
line-of-sight scenarios. This limited the number of subscribers they could
reach and, given the high cost of base stations and CPE, those business plans
failed. WiMAX functions best in line of sight situations and, unlike those
earlier technologies, offers acceptable range and throughput to subscribers
who are not line of sight to the base station. Buildings between the base
station and the subscriber diminish the range and throughput, but in an urban
environment, the signal will still be strong enough to deliver adequate
service. Given WiMAX's ability to deliver services non-line-of-sight, the
WiMAX service provider can reach many customers in high-rise office
buildings to achieve a low cost per subscriber because so many subscribers
can be reached from one base station.

WiMAX Radios
At the core of WiMAX is the WiMAX radio. A radio contains both a
transmitter (sends) and a receiver (receives). It generates electrical
oscillations at a frequency known as the carrier frequency (in WiMAX that
is usually between 2 and 11 GHz). A radio might be thought of as a
networking device similar to a router or a bridge in that it is managed by
software and is composed of circuit boards containing very complex chip

WiMAX architecture, very simply put, is built upon two components: radios
and antennas. Most WiMAX products offer a base station radio separate
from the antenna. Conversely, many CPE devices are also two piece
solutions with an antenna on the outside of the building and subscriber
station indoors as illustrated in the figure below.

Figure 9: Most WiMAX solutions use radios separate from antennas

The chief advantage of this is that the radio is protected from extremes of
heat cold and humidity all of which detract from the radio's performance and
durability. In addition, having the antenna outdoors optimizes the link
budget (performance of the wireless connection) between transmitter and
receiver especially in line of sight scenarios. The antenna is connected to
WiMAX radio via a cable known as a "pigtail". One simple rule for wireless
installations: keep the pigtail as short as possible. Why? The longer the
pigtail the more signal is lost between the antenna and the radio. The
popular LMR-400 cable, for example will lose about 1 dB (pronounced
"dee-bee" for decibel, a measure of signal strength) for every 10 feet of
cable. Very simply put, if an antenna is placed at the top of a 20-story
building and the radio in the wiring closet on the ground floor, one may lose
all signal in the cable.

Radios and Enclosures

Figure 10: WiMAX performance can be optimized by placing the radio in a

weather resistant or weatherproof enclosure near the antenna

Radio placement
The photo above shows the WiMAX radio deployed in an enclosure. Note
from left to right: a) copper grounding cable on the inside of the enclosure b)
Ethernet connection to the data source c) Heliax "pigtail" to the antenna
(Heliax is a heavy duty, lightning resistant cable) d) 110v power via an APC
UPS (note black box in top right hand corner of enclosure.

What are some strategies to ensure the antenna can be as high as possible to
take advantage of line-of-sight topologies where ever possible while keeping
the pigtail as short as possible? One approach is to co-locate the radio on or
near the roof with the antenna in an enclosure. Considerations for
enclosures include: a) security and b) weather resistance-how hot or cold can
your radio gets and still function?

Sheet metal or fiberglass enclosures with a lock provide security. Next, it is

necessary to determine how well suited the radio is for local atmospherics
(hot or cold). Most WiMAX radios are rated as operating between -20
degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees F at the upper end. If you will be
operating in locations that will exceed those parameters you need an
enclosure that will shield your radio form those extremes? As the radio will
generate its own heat, surrounding it with insulation will ensure the
temperature of the radio will not suffer from sub-zero temperatures.

WiMAX Antennas
Figure 11: Different antenna types are designed for different applications

WiMAX antennas, just like the antennas for car radio, cell phone, FM radio,
or TV, are designed to optimize performance for a given application. The
figure above illustrates the three main types of antennas used in WiMAX
deployments. From top to bottom is an omni directional, sector and panel
antenna each has a specific function.

Omni directional antenna

Figure 12: An omni-directional antenna broadcasts 360 degrees from the
base station

Omni directional antennas are used for point-to-multipoint configurations.

The main drawback to an omni directional antenna is that its energy is
greatly diffused in broad-casting 360 degrees. This limits its range and
ultimately signal’s strength. Omni directional antennas are good for
situations where there are a lot of subscribers located very close to the base
station. An example of omni directional application is a WiFi hotspot where
the range is less than 100 meters and subscribers are concentrated in a small

Sector antennas
Figure 13: Sector antennas are focused on smaller sectors

A sector antenna, by focusing the beam in a more focused area, offers

greater range and throughput with less energy. Many operators will use
sector antennas to cover a 360-degree service area rather than use an omni
directional antenna due to the superior performance of sector antennas over
an omni directional antenna.

Panel antennas
Figure 14: Panel antennas are most often used for point-to-point

Panel antennas are usually a flat panel of about one foot square. They can
also be a configuration where potentially the WiMAX radio is contained in
the square antenna enclosure. Such configurations are powered via the
Ethernet cable that connects the radio/antenna combination to the wider
network. That power source is known as Power over Ethernet (PoE). This
streamlines deployments as there is no need to house the radio in a separate,
weatherproof enclosure if outdoors or in a wiring closet if indoors. This
configuration can also be very handy for relays.

Subscriber Stations
The technical term for customer premise equipment (CPE) is subscriber
station. The generally accepted marketing terms now focus on either
"indoor CPE" or "outdoor CPE". There are advantages and disadvantages to
both deployment schemes as described below.

Outdoor CPE
Figure 15: An outdoor CPE device

Outdoor CPE, very simply put, offers somewhat better performance over
indoor CPE given that WiMAX reception is not impeded by walls of
concrete or brick, RF blocking glass or steel in the building's walls. In
many cases the subscriber may wish to utilize an outdoor CPE in order to
maximize reception via a line of sight connection to the base station not
possible with indoor CPE. Outdoor CPE will cost more than indoor CPE
due to a number of factors including extra measures necessary to make
outdoor CPE weather resistant.

Indoor CPE

Figure 16: Indoor WiMAX CPE, courtesy Motorola

The most significant advantage of indoor over outdoor CPE is that it is
installed by the subscriber. This frees the service provider from the expense
of "truck roll" or installation. In addition, it can be sold online or in a retail
facility thus sparing the service provider a trip to the customer site. Indoor
CPE also allows a certain instant gratification for the subscriber in that there
is no wait time for installation by the service provider. Currently, many
telephone companies require a one month wait between placement of order
and installation of T1 or E1 services. In addition, an instant delivery of
service is very appealing to the business subscriber in the event of a network
outage by the incumbent service provider.

Site Survey
Before any equipment is deployed, there must be a site survey to determine
what is needed in order to have a successful wireless operation. By
understanding the dynamics of the market where the deployment will take
place and planning accordingly, the service provider can ensure success on
Day One of operations.

Link Budget
Figure 17: The link budget determines the success or failure of a wireless

The figure above illustrates a link budget. It is the equation of the power of
a signal transmitted minus detractions between the transmitter and receiver
(rain, interference from other broadcasters, vegetation, gain at the antennas
ate either end) and what signal is received at the receiver.

Frequency Plan

Part of the site survey process is to determine a viable frequency plan. The
wireless operator must make maximum use of limited spectrum assets. How
does one do that?

Figure 18: By reusing frequencies at different base stations, a WiMAX

operator can avoid interference from their own network

The diagram above illustrates how a wireless operator (cellular, WiMAX,

etc) uses their limited spectrum allocation to deliver the best service possible
while avoiding interference between their base stations. Note there are nine
different base stations with three different frequencies but no similarly
shaded circle touches another. If they did touch, there would be interference
between base stations because they would be operating on the same
It is about windows, not roof tops

Traditional wireless thinking dictated that a radio and its associated antenna
should be at the highest point possible with a line of sight to a majority of
the service area (note mountain tops and the Empire State Building). This is
not necessarily so with WiMAX. As indoor subscriber units mature, the
value of antenna placement is not necessarily in height above subscribers,
but in achieving as short and direct a line of sight possible between base
station and subscriber's CPE.

Figure 19: Imagine each window or floor paying $500 per month in WiMAX

Objections to WiMAX
A discussion of WiMAX is not complete without taking
on objections to the technology. Before any one can
sell a high technology product, they must first sell
the customer on the technology.
Figure 20: Objections to WiMAX are best understood via the
provisions built into the WiMAX Physical and MAC layers
Source: IEEE

Technology sales people invariably encounter

objections to the technology they are selling. The
primary objections to WiMAX are:

1. Interference: Won't
interference from other
broadcasters degrade the quality of the WiMAX

Wireless is inherently
2. Quality of Service (QoS):
unstable so how can it offer voice and video

3. Security: Is WiMAX secure? Can anything wireless

be secure?
Tkip / LEAP
Nothing can be as reliable as the
4. Reliability:
telephone company's service (rumored to offer "five
9s" of reliability or 5 minutes of downtime per

The answers to those objections are best understood via the Physical
(known as the PHY, pronounced "fi") and Medium Access Control
(MAC pronounced "Mac") Layers. The WiMAX Working Group no
doubt were aware of these objections based on experiences with earlier
wireless technologies (Wi-Fi, LMDS, MMDS, CDMA, GSM) and have
engineered WiMAX to fix failures of past wireless technologies.

Antenna Technologies & Interference

Adaptive Antenna System (AAS)

Figure 24: By utilizing AAS and beam steering technologies, WiMAX
overcomes interference while boosting range and throughput

Adaptive Antenna Systems (AAS) use beam-forming technologies to focus

the wireless beam between the base station and the subscriber. This reduces
the possibility of interference from other broadcasters as the beam runs
straight between the two points.

Dynamic Frequency Selection, MIMO, and Software Defined Radios

Figure 25: Dynamic Frequency Selection enables a radio to shift

frequencies when interference is present
One of the simplest remedies to interference is to simply change frequencies
to avoid the frequency where interference occurs. Dynamic frequency
selection (DFS) does just that. A DFS radio sniffs the airwaves to determine
where interference does not occur and selects the open frequency to avoid
the frequencies where interference occurs.

Multiple in and multiple out (MIMO) antenna systems work on the same
principle. With multiple transmitters and receivers built into the antenna, the
transmitter and receiver can coordinate to move to open frequency if/when
interference occurs.

Software defined radios (SDR) use the same strategy to avoid interference.
As they are software and not hardware defined, they have the flexibility to
dynamically shift frequencies to move away from a congested frequency to
an open channel.

Wimax Disadvantages
Wimax technology was designed to compete with remote locations that presently employs satellite for internet
connectivity. Wimax technology can operate on both licensed and non licensed frequencies. Wimax Technology is
powerful mobile technology but are facing some disadvantages discussed below.

Lack of Quality
The Wimax network has lack of quality service because there are hundreds of people trying to get access at the same
tower so due to heavy traffic it is very hard to maintain high quality.

Wimax range
The other disadvantage of Wimax network is range. As Wimax offer 70Mbps in range with moving station but in practice
it is quite different because it is possible only in specify or ideal circumstances. If a user staying away from the specified
environment then speed can drop considerably.
Wimax Bandwidth
Like other network Bandwidth is collective amongst clients in a specified zone. But if there are a lot of users in one area
the speed decreases which may be 2 to 10 Mbps of shared bandwidth.

Expensive network
The most disadvantage of WiMAX is its installation and operational cost. Due to heavy structure, tower, antennas etc
makes the WiMAX network collectively high cost network.

Bad Weather
The quality of services decreases in rainy season because the weather condition could interrupt the signal which may
cause of bad signal and broadcasting may be stop or interrupted.

Wireless equipments
If you are trying to use much wireless equipment at a time within WiMAX network then these equipments may cause of
interference and could interfere your broadcasting data or face some compromised speed.

Power consuming
WiMAX network is very heavy in structure therefore need much electrical support for running the overall network.

Data Rate
The data rate of Wimax as compared to other network such as fiber optics, satellite, cables etc are very slow.