by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
extended range, wifi, wimax

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    anne, May 28th, 2008 @ 1:05am

    Ok maybe I'm a dope. What's wrong with wi-fi as it exists right now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Mike (profile), May 28th, 2008 @ 1:10am


    Ok maybe I'm a dope. What's wrong with wi-fi as it exists right now?

    WiFi is fine for local area networking. It works over a very small range (measured in feet). The question is about covering a wide area (measured in miles).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Estepona Apartments, May 28th, 2008 @ 1:11am


    Nothing's wrong with it but it's very short range.

    WiMax is very long distance wireless broadband. Mike is pointing out the futility of trying to turn WiFi being modified to compete with WiMax with WiMax being released.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Kevin, May 28th, 2008 @ 3:50am

    Competing with WiMiax?

    That shouldn't be hard, since nobody has been able to successfully implement WiMax either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Rhett, May 28th, 2008 @ 5:28am

    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].

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    www.custompcmax.com, May 28th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    While I am not very hopeful that this "version" of wide area WiFi will be successful, it is always good to hear about people trying to improve it. More competition in this area will eventually lead us to the results we all want... which is cheap and fast internet access, anywhere you are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), May 28th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    ipzedge, May 28th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    Wi-Fi 30 miles

    and up to 60

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Avriel Rabenou (VP Business Development Max-Fi), May 29th, 2008 @ 7:04am


    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Alaric, May 29th, 2008 @ 8:43am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Rhett, May 30th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    peter, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Re: Max-Fi

    very interesting:

    1 - where can i read more about this project of antwerp?

    2 - if max-fi is sending 2.0000 meters, how to make it going in the other direction? does my laptop also send 2.000 meters back? i cannot imagine ? am i wrong?



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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