While the world waits for wide-area WiMax to take off, bringing broadband to areas off the wired network, one chip-maker reckons that WiMax could have another role - replacing 802.11a on the LAN.
"There's nothing that precludes the use of WiMax on the LAN," says Mike Librizzi, vice president of marketing at Cygnus Communications, a WiMax silicon vendor the demonstrated a software-defined WiMax system at the SuperComm show last month. "You will get an improvement in data rate, and a service that can stream to multiple devices."
In the unlicensed 5GHz band, low-power WiMax equipment could be used under just the same restrictions as Wi-Fi kit, but with several benefits, according to Librizzi. WiMax offers better quality of service than Wi-Fi, he says, having had it built in from the start, rather than bolted on afterwards as the 802.11e standards have done to Wi-Fi. Read more about this in our feature (Why put WiMax on the LAN?), and in a White Paper (PDF) at Cygnus' site.
The technology would be particularly useful for home networks, where streaming media content is sent from room to room, and would need to respond well to interference from other equipment is in the same spectrum. "WiMax in the home is an opportunity to use quality of service mechanisms in WiMax for the purpose of streaming to multiple devices," he said.
A wireless broadband provider could then offer WiMax end-to-end, including an in-building LAN, by bundling a low-power base station with the wide-area WiMax receiver it provides. "It may be more attractive to operators to use technology that has mechanisms built in that allow them to manage service classes on the connection."
The two could both be on licensed spectrum, giving the operator more control, said Librizzi: "Operators don't like the idea of users running a home network. They would rather run it."