Yet Another Company Thinks It Can Stretch WiFi To Compete With WiMAX

from the just-don't dept

For years and years and years we’ve been hearing about companies that claim to have taken WiFi and been able to turn it into a wide-area technology. Yet, every time, the reality is a lot less appealing. The technology rarely works, except under specific ideal conditions. So forgive us for being skeptical of yet another company claiming that its special take on WiFi can take on WiMAX. It’s even come up with the name MaxFi that’s almost certain to have the WiMAX folks checking with their trademark lawyers. While it’s nice to see some folks trying to do more with the technology, given the long trail littered with failed plans for wide-area WiFi, let’s consider this one to be yet another story that makes a nice headline and little else.

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Comments on “Yet Another Company Thinks It Can Stretch WiFi To Compete With WiMAX”

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Rhett says:

WiFi vs WiMax

WiFi is already used by many wireless ISPs to reach out to the 6-10 mile mark. The only real difference in the two is that WiFi (802.11b) starts to break pretty badly around 200-300 packets per second and can really only offer about 3.5 mbps to a customer. WiMax on the other hand can offer way higher packets per second. We are piloting Airspans WiMax and they believe that we can put 50-60 customers on one AP with 6mbps packages and a 20-1 oversub. They can stretch WiFi as far as they want, the issue is throughput and performance, not range [in my opinion].

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Stretching Wi-Fi With Non-Economic Ideas

re comment #5

Rhett, some people have managed to get a Wi-Fi signal to travel incredible distances, but every time we see this, it is using some massively directional antenna, increased TX power, reduced data modulation rates, and a variety of relatively expensive electronics. Then out comes a press release that some lab got a Wi-Fi signal to travel 20Km.

The question is not how far and thinly can Wi-Fi be stretched, but what is the typical range of Wi-Fi with cheap equipment, a standard laptop CPE, and no roof mounted equipment at the client’s site.

Yes, #4, mobile WiMAX is also unproven in the kind of commercial deployment I describe in the paragraph above. But at least it was designed to handle this task. We’ll see soon enough if Sprint’s Clearwire can pull it off.

Avriel Rabenou (VP Business Development Max-Fi) says:


Hi All,

I understand your sceptisism…Just for your interests, the port of Antwerp project is actually 64 square kilomteres. It was a public tender where all the big players participated. We were chosen of 12 technologies. Why ? We were the only one who could do it. Using only 13 masts with less than 30 transmitters. It is all accroding to the ETSI standard (tested and certified) which means antenna + base station

Alaric says:

Wi-Fi Already Challenges WiMAX

Modified versions of WiFi have been used for Fixed wireless (WiMAX’s main real application) for quite some time. Its also used for point to point links, again modified with better antennas, etc.

The biggest problem is going to be output power restrictions (generally lower in the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz wifi unlicensed bands) and propagation characteristics vs the 3.5 GHz band that WiMAX is almost always deployed in. Obviously there are others.

But in the end WiFi and WiMAX are both facing the same physics of wireless technology and WiFi evolves rather faster than WiMAX…meaning changes could be made to improve outdoor performance rather quickly. And WiMAX made some very bad choices regarding how they handle interference and a number of other issues so i wouldn’t rule these evolved WiFi-types out.

The issue here is really how quickly each camp can adopt particular technical enhancements.

Rhett says:

WiMax vs WiFi

The other things that WiMax has that WiFi doesn’t have is a huge Forum of companies with Billions of dollars and motivation to make it work. Also WiFi has a large subscriber base inside the home [from a spectrum standpoint] when you look at 2.4 GHz phones, bluetooth, xbox wireless controllers, microwaves, etc…That’s way too much interference going on to do with WiFi what they want to do with WiMax. You still can’t ignore the fact that 802.11b/g have pretty serious limitations from a packet/second standpoint. 802.11n might work, and maybe that’s all they are trying to do, but interference and a mostly non-technical user base wouldn’t work really well. WiMax is just in its infancy and I just don’t see it going away with all the money and time Intel and friends have put into it.

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