WiMax laptop card

If you like to believe everything vendors tell you, WiMax will solve all our broadband problems, give us younger looking skin, and get rid of grey hair.

WiMax has been lurking for ages, a technology that has been "just a few months away" for at least three years. But it takes a long time to bring an entirely new wireless technology to market, with extensive testing required to make sure the systems don't interfere with other wireless systems, among other issues.

The approval by the FCC of the first WiMax laptop card is a good sign that we may finally be able to starting thinking about WiMax as a "real" system. WiMax base stations (the gear that powers big towers) is still very expensive, but there have been few ways to for users to actually receive WiMax signals affordably. Over the next several years, we will finally see a bunch of WiMax products enter the marketplace, and dropping prices.

Is WiMax the holy grail of broadband? Not by a long shot, but it is a much better technology than WiFi, which was designed for indoor use and short distances. WiMax was designed from the ground up to provide much more robust and interference-resistant signals over longer distances, with more bandwidth. It will gradually replace WiFi, and it will be interesting to see how it competes with EVDO, the cellular-based wireless technology favored, naturally, by the cellphone companies.

But fiber is still a necessity. Wireless services are not the first choice for businesses because of bandwidth, security, and reliability issues. And home use is being driven by high bandwidth video applications and services, which WiMax cannot support. We need well-designed fiber and wireless systems in our communities, and communities that design for both will have a significant economic development advantage.

Technology News: