The Next Generation Connection: WiMAX Internet

When the very first home computers connected online, they used dial-up access. It was linked to the telephone; and was slow, very limited and very unreliable. Internet wasn’t much of an importance back in the old days. But of course, it grew into a phenomenon and slowly gained significance in the increasingly globalized world. The speed and reliability of Internet connections must be sped up. To service the growing number of users and the demand for faster surfing, wired broadband was developed; and is now the most widely-used Internet connection these days. WiFi then appeared for more mobile web surfing. However, these three Internet access options are limited; not one provides a truly fast and reliable Internet-on-the go. The next big thing is coming.

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The next big thing in Internet connectivity is slowly gaining a foothold in the market; and Internet service providers are beginning to offer this service. WiMAX Internet, which stands for ‘Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access’, is the fourth generation (4G) connection. It is called in its IEEE name 802.16; and in essence it basically wireless broadband. It is the successor of the 3G and 2G standards. WiMAX Internet is also similar to the WiFi, where it also consists of a tower (akin to a wireless router) and a receiver; but unlike the WiFi’s limited range, WiMAX Internet can cover kilometers of radius from the base station. Basically WiFi on steroids.

It has two main parts: a WiMAX tower and a WiMAX receiver. The Internet service provider network is connected to the WiMAX tower, and acts like a huge wireless router which sends signals across a large area. The WiMAX receiver, such as a laptop or a wireless device, then gains access to the Internet. ISPs may add more WiMAX towers for a more ‘dense’ Internet connectivity.

WiMAX Internet’s speed is quite powerful, which can go up to 70 megabits per second. Dialup connection, wired broadband and predecessors 2G and 3G pale to this speed. But the greatest difference still is the distance WiMAX Internet is able to cover. It can service up to 50 kilometers radius; and its mobility and reliability is unparalleled by any Internet connection service. If for say a metropolitan area has one WiMAX tower, then WiMAX users can stay connected anytime and anywhere within that area. Of course, certain factors such as weather, terrain, large buildings and number of users can affect the range and speed. But as WiMAX Internet is still being developed to compete with other connection technologies, its future is promising.

With WiMAX Internet, users can now take advantage of a truly 24/7 Internet on-the-go. It may change the way people live; one can now tweet and change Facebook status while on a plane, or play online games while strolling in the park. As of now there are still a handful of Internet service providers that offer a 4G or WiMAX Internet service. Because of its mobility and reliability, WiMAX Internet will no doubt be the most preferred connection in the near future.

John Thompson

Peter Thompson: Peter, a futurist and tech commentator, writes about emerging technology trends and their potential impacts on society.