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« Qualcomm's VP on Mobile WiMax | Main | BellSouth Puts Pre-WiMax in New Orleans »

October 24, 2005

Santa Clara Firm Demos WiMax Chip Across a Square Mile

By Glenn Fleishman

TeleCis Wireless has a fixed WiMax demonstration network running to showcase their chip, which competes with Intel’s: The company claims a higher area for their WiMax implementation than Intel’s, but it’s important to remember that there’s no certified chips or reference designs yet. In the certification process, tweaks can be required to meet the trade group spec and that can affect performance.

The article unfortunately repeats several myths about fixed WiMax: A Wi-Fi antenna’s reach is typically about 100 meters while a WiMax signal can travel 1-to-3 miles easily and as far as 10 miles under the right conditions. A WiMax user does not need a line of sight to an antenna like a Wi-Fi user.

The big difference is mobility. Wi-Fi is designed as a mobile spec; fixed WiMax is not. Wi-Fi isn’t a point-to-multipoint standard, but it can work in that mode. However, it’s best used for point-to-point over long distances. Wi-Fi can run many, many miles in point-to-point configurations using existing technology. That’s not really the difference.

The non-line-of-sight (NLOS) issue is separate. WiMax isn’t magic. It can’t penetrate physical objects in a way that Wi-Fi can’t. Instead, it’s designed to be much more robust than Wi-Fi, which is highly sensitive to obstacles in its direct LOS. Radio waves still have to get through the Fresnel zone, as I understand it, to work in NLOS situations. (RF experts are welcome to post below with more detailed explanations!)

Posted by Glennf at October 24, 2005 10:53 AM

Categories: Chips

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"Wi-Fi is designed as a mobile spec; fixed WiMax is not"? Huh? Wi-Fi can do AP-AP make-before-break handoffs at vehicular speeds with session continuity?

[Editor's note: Yes, it's been done in APs without breaking adapter compatibility--that is, the adapter can still be using plain Wi-Fi. But when I say mobile, I should more precisely write "nomadic." The 3G spec at the FCC talks about walking, driving, and fixed access, and Wi-Fi is best at walking and fixed.--gf]

Posted by: DG Lewis at October 25, 2005 7:09 AM

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