Cringely on WiMax

Robert Cringely writes in the context of Intel’s $600 million investment into Clearwire, which is building a WiMax network in the US:

WiMax, like most wireless networking technologies, is either-or. You can either have lots of bandwidth or you can have long range. There are exceptions to this rule if you have line-of-sight transmission and can use a matched set of high-gain antennas. Then, sure, WiMax can send those 70+ megabits per second for 30 miles and more — sometimes a LOT more. But the way most of us envision using WiMax is with lower gain antennas, often without line of sight, and possibly even while moving from place to place, so the trade-off of bandwidth for distance is pretty severe. Most WiMax users will find that they can’t get the target 70 megabits per second at 30 miles. They’ll be lucky to get even one megabit per second at 30 miles. Possibly a LOT less, as WiMax’s adaptive modulation slows transmission and throws on lots of forward error correction to make sure the signal gets through, however sluggishly.

If your WiMax or 3G connection syncs at, say, 100 kbps, does it still qualify as broadband?

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.