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Wireless Networking Hardware

WiMax Formed To Promote 802.16 Standard 125

The Original Yama writes "Intel, Nokia, Proxim, and a bunch of other companies have launched WiMax, a non-profit group founded to certify and promote the IEEE 802.16 wireless networking standard. What's interesting about this standard is that it allows "up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users connectivity without a direct line of sight to a base station," all at a shared speed of 70Mbps. This simultaneously blows away 3G mobile and 802.11 technologies."
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WiMax Formed To Promote 802.16 Standard

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  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:47PM (#5723850) Journal
    What's interesting about this standard is that it allows "up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users connectivity without a direct line of sight to a base station," all at a shared speed of 70Mbps. This simultaneously blows away 3G mobile and 802.11 technologies."

    Yeah. Damn. *31 miles* of users sharing 70Mbps.

    Heck, I'll whip out my trusty ol' 56k modem and get better performance.
    • Obviously if you have a dense population of users it becomes economical to have more base stations in the 31 mile radius, each serving a smaller zone, in the interests of extra bandwidth per user.
      • Obviously if you have a dense population of users it becomes economical to have more base stations in the 31 mile radius, each serving a smaller zone, in the interests of extra bandwidth per user.

        But can it be expanded with multiple cells? The article is notably light on technical details, and I'm not sure its safe to assume you could install 4 of them in a 31 mile radius without interference.

        Even so, this would be a great technology for rural areas and countries that lack infrastructure.

    • Encryption and access control, my friend.
    • Well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by autopr0n ( 534291 )
      I'm assuming it's 70mbps/channel. But for 31 miles there had better be a lot of channels. Could you imagine 9,500 square miles (pi*31^2) of people all sharing the same 10 or so wifi channels? It could suck.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cyberdyne ( 104305 )
        I'm assuming it's 70mbps/channel. But for 31 miles there had better be a lot of channels. Could you imagine 9,500 square miles (pi*31^2) of people all sharing the same 10 or so wifi channels? It could suck.

        It would suck if used for home connections in a city, certainly - but you wouldn't use it as a DSL-replacement in NYC. For fixed installation in cities, DSL or cable modems will be much better. Out in the countryside, however - cable and DSL can't reach. If you bear in mind the 50:1 contention ratio for

    • Yeah especially in a city like New York or LA. It'd be faster to walk to the site to read the information then use this. I'm hoping there are multiple channels.
  • Cellular (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idontneedanickname ( 570477 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:49PM (#5723856)
    They claim that WiMax-powered hot spots could cheaply offer wireless broadband access to citywide areas, bringing Wi-Fi closer to cellular network levels of ubiquity.

    With Nokia in there, does that mean their phones will somehow be able to use these networks to make calls?

  • Dupe (Score:1, Interesting)

    See here [slashdot.org].
  • Huh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Squidgee ( 565373 ) <squidgeeOO1@noSPAm.hotmail.com> on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:50PM (#5723863)
    Does this seem like something which could be used as a replacement for DSL/Cable in areas where there is none? I personally live in one, .5mi out of range from Cable. So, the 31mi range is most likely more than that of DSL and/or Cable. So, while it is slower, this does seem like something which could be used to replace and/or suppliment DSL/Cable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:52PM (#5723880)
    Imagine the next generation of AirPort:

    Apple builds 802.16 into their future laptops and iPods, and partners with one of the nationwide infrastructure providers of 802.16. Then they offer "get-online-with-your-Mac-anywhere" service, and iPods can receive internet radio, wherever they are. That would be pretty sweet.
  • Forget 31 miles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xeos ( 174989 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:53PM (#5723883) Homepage
    Sounds great, but 31 miles? How about 50 feet though wood and concrete? Line of sight is nice, but for most interesting home networking, there's just no way.
    • Re:Forget 31 miles (Score:2, Informative)

      by CyberBill ( 526285 )
      Sounds great, but 31 miles? How about 50 feet though wood and concrete? Line of sight is nice, but for most interesting home networking, there's just no way.

      Its nice to people dont even read the whole HEADLINE, let alone the article before they start posting.

      "up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users connectivity without a direct line of sight to a base station,"

      -Bill
      • Re:Forget 31 miles (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BitHive ( 578094 )
        Just because they say that the system is not limited by line of sight doesn't mean that, as the parent poster alluded to, it will work through 50 feet of wood and concrete. Sure, I may be able to get a signal 30 miles away if I'm behind a building, but not if I'm behind ten city blocks of buildings.
      • even so, the possibilities for wiring rural communities are astounding. consider the developing world in particular, where communication is often limited to beat up old truck or expensive satellite phone.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Last year I witnessed a 928Mhz spread spectrum link over 10m miles using 2 yagi antennas that was a) line of sight with no packet loss a 9600 baud, b) inside a concrete block building with no line of sight and no packet loss, and c) inside the same building but behind a huge diesel engine with about 5% packet loss that required a number of retries before getting through.

      If this technology can achieve the same throughput at mbps speeds this will be a sure winner.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:53PM (#5723886) Homepage
    This simultaneously blows away 3G mobile and 802.11 technologies.

    802.16 is designed for fixed outdoor operation and the antennas are much too big to fit in a PCMCIA card, so it won't replace 802.11.

    802.16 clients can't move around, so it can't replace 3G.
    • 802.16 is designed for fixed outdoor operation and the antennas are much too big to fit in a PCMCIA card, so it won't replace 802.11.

      What frequency band does 802.16 work on? I imagine it's still in the high-MHz/low-GHz range which means a 1/4 wave dipole can easily be mounted on any notebook computer.

    • I'm not sure exactly how this works, but a friend of mine who is way too far out of a city to get cable or DSL decided to get this new wireless broadband service. The access point is no biger than a motorola surfboard cable modem (it's actually smaller, about the size of a normal USB hub.) He says that it works like a cell phone, you have to be in a certain range, and you can move within the range, but if you get too far from their towers, no signal for you.

      He also said that they are planning to make PC

    • This simultaneously blows away 3G mobile and 802.11 technologies.


      Some things about 3G vs 802.xx
      1. Only 3G has roaming, you keep your same IP on telco roaming partners.
      2. Your IP can be routed back to your own network, so you can use Private IP space. (Think about this, 10 people with a 10.0.0.10 IPs on the same basesation, and they dont see each other. NO VPN needed.)
      3. 3G has unbroken native encryption. (Wouldnt matter to me, I wrap my traffic in ssh, but Police use 3G now.)

      One cool example.

      There are
      • 802.16-based networks are supposed to have encryption, too. It's not included in 802.16 standard itself, but the networks are supposed to be a physical layer for DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Standard Interface Specification - privacy, authentication and management layer for Cable Modems). Over that we will have 802.3 (Ethernet) protocols and standard IP stack. That's at least as far as I could get in that.
        Anyway DOCSIS specified the use of RSA and DES (other symetrical ciphers are optional), message signatures,
      • You do realize that your "802.xx" standards cover just a bit more than wireless communications, don't you? Take for example, wired ethernet at 802.2 and 802.3, Token Ring at 802.5 among a few others. Those were around long before the wireless standards emerged.
      • 802.x can use Mobile IP to keep same IP address - admittedly there are problems when you roam fast enough, so 3G/2.5G are ahead here.

        3G, like GPRS, using a tunnelling protocol (GTP) to a wireless operator node called the GGSN. This sits within the operator's network not the corporate network, so there are companies (including mine) that provide MPLS VPN technologies to bridge that gap.

        3G has similar issues with encryption - there is encryption through radio access network, and probably across GTP, but no
        • The "Lawful interception" or we call it the "CALEA Box" sits on the backbone network. So you have BSC (Base station) SGSN (Service node) GGSN (Gateway Node) Backbone/Internet.

          While we can sniff all data, GTP traffic to other Intercarriers is still encrypted. We can track each packet from the on the GB/GN links for performance/stats, but its still encrypted. When its GI traffic, this is where law enforcement sniffs, raw unencoded IP traffic. (Yes they use warrents, and they dont control our box, Sys-adm
  • From the article, this technology is meant to link 802.11 hotspots, not as a replacement to 802.11.

    Free space optics is another interesting field that will give you upwards of 1Gb/s over 2km. More info on free space optics. [freespaceoptics.org]

    All of these technologies are emerging to try to link the last mile to the high speed backbone as the cost of fiber is prohibitive (~$325/m) and the majority of the US doesn't live on top of a fiber backbone.
    • > the majority of the US doesn't live on top of a
      > fiber backbone.

      Heh. I have two fibre-optic cables on my property, one 1/4 mile from the house and one 200 feet away. I can't even get cable or DSL (not that I could afford either anyway).
      • Um, that would be in part because DSL works through phone lines and is severely distance sensative (you have to be close to a base station--the further away you are the slower the connection).

        Cable requires, well, a cable company that services your area and that is willing to provide cable modem service.
  • by NOT-2-QUICK ( 114909 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:53PM (#5723893) Homepage
    For those whom are not aware of this technology, I gladly provide the following linkage:

    -- Article @ Network World Fusion [nwfusion.com]

    -- Article @ Comms Design [commsdesign.com]

    -- Published Standards & Drafts [wirelessman.org]

    Enjoy! :-)
  • Why bother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by doormat ( 63648 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:57PM (#5723916) Homepage Journal
    I'd take decreased range (5-10 miles) and 100mbit/s thank you very much. Screw that whole "backhaul for 802.11x" crap, you know you'll have end users trying to hook into it. I think it'd be great for universities. One or two WAPs and you're covered. As long as people arent trying to use Kazaa from their psychology class you're OK.
    • As long as people arent trying to use Kazaa from their psychology class you're OK.

      I guess I'm OK then. I use Limewire while sitting in Chem 201. ;-)
  • Still expensive... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by asparagus ( 29121 ) <koonce@NosPam.gmail.com> on Sunday April 13, 2003 @06:59PM (#5723935) Homepage Journal
    At $10k for a base station and $1k ($300 eventually) for the reciever, this tech is still a bit off. However, improvements like this will be what eventually let wireless give DSL/Cable monopolies a run for their money in the last-mile competition.

    Bring it on. I'm tired of 56k. Anybody know the latency on one of these connects?
    • actualy this will make wireless networking over metro areas a lot cheeper. this is ment for bussinesses to connect hot spots. so all tehy need to do is buy the hot spot, plug it in, configure it to the signal and your hot...no more will tehy need to get each hotspot wired with Fiber or cable...one bill for bandwidth now.
    • Right now Motorola Canopy [canopywireless.com] is about $1100 per 60 degrees on an access point and the subscriber units are about $515. With the built in antenna you get about two miles but with a typical sat tv type dish, you can get upto 35 miles in some configurations. Its not 802.16 but it works and it works today.
    • Wow... you've got 56k? That takes it back! If I have to choose between dialup and no Internet, I choose no Internet.
      • The Internet is to me information freebased. I am helpless without it.

        I am looking forward to a future in which there is global continuous wireless connectivity. Then I can live in my shack in the woods and periodically wander in toward civilization to get supplies.

        -Brett
        (typing this on somebody else's computer)
      • If I have to choose between dialup and no Internet, I choose no Internet.

        "If I have to choose between the ability to do something and the inability to do it, I choose the inability."

        You say that because you don't have to choose between dialup and no internet. If you did, you'd choose dialup.
        • Umm no.... I have been in several situations thus far where I had no choice but dialup. You know what I did? Nothing. I said my email can wait, and I'll use the phone if I need to find information.
          • by hobbit ( 5915 )
            I have been in several situations thus far where I had no choice but dialup

            Well... you have been in several situations thus far where you have had to choose between dialup and waiting to use broadband.

            I'd still bet that if, in some alternative reality, you were banned from using broadband, you wouldn't stop using the internet.
  • 31 miles? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @07:04PM (#5723958)
    What's really interesting is that it is only 25 miles to a typical horizon. 31 sounds like marketing hype to me, since it would be useless unless you're dealing with relatively non-terrestrial points-to-point.
    • Doesn't seem like a tower would have to be very tall to expand the horizon to 31 miles, although I don't know the exact numbers.
      • Did we see a mention of any towers? No.

        Of course there are many ways to 'expand the horizon'...we're looking at one of them right now, which again, is marketing hype.
    • Re:31 miles? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @08:05PM (#5724275) Homepage
      R = 1.23(sqrt(ht) + sqrt(hr))

      Where ht is the height of the transmitting antenna and hr is the height of the receiving antenna (in feet, I don't feel like looking up the conversion). R is in nautical miles.

      One nautical mile is 1.1508 miles in distance.

      Thus, to get a reception of 31 miles assuming a receiver that is on the ground and ideal conditions...

      You would need an antenna that was 480 feet off the ground.

      To obtain a 25 mile horizon, it is almost 170 feet less.

      This is, of course, under ideal conditions (no atmospheric distortions, ideal antenna, no silly things like mountain ranges blocking the signel, &c).

      This is also assuming my memory, the original reference, and my math are all correct :-)
    • No, no, no. They explicitly said that this does *not* require line of site. Electromagnetic wave propogation is not all like visible light (line of site). Depending on the wavelengths involved, electromagnetic radiation can "bend" significantly. Think about it: do you have a line of site with the antenna tower of your favorite FM radio station? No. What about AM radio? Hell, the low frequencies used in AM can carry hundreds of miles without even factoring in the effect of reflection off the ionospher
      • Re:31 miles? (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You ate paint chips as a kid, didn't you?

        First of all, most FM and AM radio stations exist on tall towers. Second, only certain HF wavelengths will benefit from atmospheric propogation and it is not something that is a constant. Shortwave listeners and ham radio operators experience this. Bands only "open up" periodically. The periodicity is both daily and longer term (sunspot cycles).

        Anyway this is all moot. The Wimax stuff is all Microwave and UHF, where this atmospheric stuff is not even an issue.

        Fur
        • Never tasted paint chips, no.

          Yes, FM radio is on tall towers, but not tall enough to clear the horizon. FM radio does "bend" (diffract, really) around the horizon. The reason to put it on tall towers is that it does not have an infinite capacity to bend around the horizon. So by putting it on a tall tower, you can still go further than without. Seriously... get out a pair of binoculars. Do you see the radio tower? No, you don't.

          Certainly this has too high of a frequency to gain a whole lot of benefi
  • by stj ( 607714 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @07:05PM (#5723959) Homepage Journal
    The technology itself is new and barely IEEE approved. In fact there are three versions of the standard to date (keywords made up):

    regular - for 10-55GHz frequencies and that one actually gives even up to 134Mbps. Now, because it uses range-dependent modulation techniques, you'll not have 70Mbps @ 30 miles. At 30 miles you might have about 20Mbps

    somewhat limited - for 2-11GHz which is unlikely to be implemented because it runs into almost all possible licensed frequency bands

    unlicensed - for 5 GHz unlicensed band - exactly the same as 802.11b
    Now, in any case, this is a fixed wireless network - that is stations are not mobile. So, it's NOT a competition for any mobile standards. All of that is very questionable at the moment because it will require quite a large licensed band and unlike UWB, it will transmit at measureable powers. I don't think Nokia would do anything to kill UMTS and 3G.
    There are some ISPs using it: installation cost in one I know is around $700 and monthly cost is $40 for wireless T1.

  • I still think microwave T1 is better. For instance, Lick Observatory in the hills behind San Jose is linked to UC Santa Cruz by a line of sight microwave T1 connection. I would trade a non-requirement of line of sight for speed/distance any day.
  • if tehy had 2 towers in the service area, would taht give twice the bandwidth to the customers?

    not nessisaraly by way of taking one pe4rsons traffic and sending it to 2 diffrent towers but is it not possable to assign half the customers to one tower and half to another and give each twice the bandwidth?

    if yu can then this would basicly make bandwith increases a heluva lot easier.
  • This sounds great! I have been planning on setting up 802.11 for a while now and getting better range and bandwidth would be cool.

    But it seems this is just speculation. I couldn't find any products that provide 802.16, at any price. Until we have products available, I'm going to call this pure speculation. Perhaps the final products will have a bandwidth of 7Mb instead of 70, a range of 2.7 miles instead of 27 miles, and then there is the cost, with 802.11b now under $100 per node ...
  • Who needs this? a $10 cantenna gets a 30 mile range, and now they even look nice on your desk [cantenna.com]

  • by ebusinessmedia1 ( 561777 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @07:56PM (#5724218)
    Wireless technlogy is progressing at 1.7x the speed of Moore's Law - pretty amazing.

    Look at what is already available from places like Vivato, Motorola (Canopy) and Proxim - and this is *just* the beginning - wireless technologies weren't a serious factor just 5 years ago.

    Add in cogntive radio, software defined radio, ad hoc and mesh networks, etc., and you have a wirelss technology juggernaut forming that is unstoppable.

    Of course, the solutions will keep coming, and there will be confusion in the market, but that didn't stop the auot, the PC, or the digital media.

    We will look back in 20 years and be amazed!

  • Are there any ISPs using such fixed wireless technology for access to residential customers who can't get access via DSL or cable? Is there a site which lists them? Are there any in the Western NewYork region? :-) (just thought I'd throw that last one in there).
  • by yehim1 ( 462046 ) on Sunday April 13, 2003 @09:57PM (#5724945) Journal
    One difference between 803.11 and 3G technologies, apart from the obvious physical layer, is that 3G spectrums are licensed property, and would require permission from governing bodies for access to the specified frequencies and channels.

    WiFi, on the other hand, resides on the unlicensed 2.4Ghz spectrum. Therefore, it lacks the lawful enforcement of any usage for the spectrum.

    With this lies the problem of billing. Even though hotspots are booming all over the world, one day access providers will realise that they cannot provide internet free forever, and would need to charge for WiFi access (this is already true in some airports). However, some business (i.e. cybercafes), use WiFi as a tool for attracting customers; but they still have to charge for the coffees!

    Now, WiFi won't die because of the lack of billing and charge systems. It is _designed_ for home and office use anyway, as a wired LAN replacement. Wifi can still be used in the closed premises to share the internet we already have (i.e. ADSL) to our users in our network (our employees and family).

    Question is: now that this 802.16 is used for MAN (metropolitan area networks), how does it fit into the current situation of these wireless networking standards?

    Would control be in governing bodies to grant access rights to use certain frequencies (just like in 3G)? Or would it be like WLAN's where nobody has control over the frequencies and everybody can use as they like?

    If the latter is true, it could provide good competition against 3G and 803.11a, but how can access providers gain control over the use of a certain frequency in a certain area to provide internet services?

    • There are plenty of billing systems for 802.11 (probably too many).

      802.16 can be used in either licensed or unlicensed bands. In the licensed bands there's no problem; you pay the money and there should be no interference. In the unlicensed bands there can be interference, but the ISPs just have to bear it.
  • I would love to see them put a few towers in my area, I can't get DSL or cable (TV, let alone internet) so something like this would be ideal for a sparsely populated rural area like mine.
  • http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/04/08/19552 4 8&tid=193

    Okay, so the previous article had "Intel" in the title, but it covered the same ground. Five days ago. I guess on /. that means it's forgotten.

    And what I said there is still true. 802.16 is a technology spec, not a frequency band. Long range and high speed are for licensed users. Unlicensed users get short range (5 GHz band). And the 25+ GHz frequencies are very sensitive to rain fade. Even with high licensed power, most non-desert ar
  • I hope this makes it... I would sure love NOT 56k modem access. Because we are not getting cable or dsl anytime soon and I'd have to sell a couple of kidneys for satellite. I like living in the country... hopefully this will make it a whole lot better... but by the time this would ever make it we'd probably get dsl or something :\
  • Why does everyone immediately ass-u-me that this is a hotspot protocol? The press release (the news equivalent of spam) states (though you have to read carefully) that it will "power" hotspots, meaning the fixed link then gets connected to a local 802.11x hotspot. The end user still uses 802.11x to cover the last 50 feet.

    The encryption, etc.. are all nice, but this is a high-speed protocol designed to work with high gain fixed antennas pointing at each other, and not a sucky little 3db patch antenna on a l

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