What is WiMAX? What is WiFi?

WiMAX technology provides a path (similar to a wire) for data exchange between an end-user and the world-wide web. In this case, the signals are transmitted through the air via high-frequency radio waves (in the microwave part of the spectrum).

WiMAX is defined as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access by the WiMAX Forum (formed in June 2001 to promote conformance and interoperability of the IEEE 802.16 standard). The Forum describes WiMAX as:

"A standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL".

WiMAX is not a technology, but rather a certification mark, or 'stamp of approval' given to equipment that meets certain conformity and interoperability tests for the IEEE 802.16 family of standards. A similar confusion surrounds the term WiFi (Wireless Fidelity), which like WiMAX, is a certification mark for equipment based on a different set of IEEE standards from the 802.11 working group for wireless local area networks (WLAN).

Neither WiMAX, nor WiFi is a technology but their names have been adopted in popular usage to denote the technologies behind them. This is likely due to the difficulty of using terms like 'IEEE 802.16' in common speech and writing.

Many Princeton residents' ISP (Ayacht) employs an Alvarion radio system to establish connections. Their internet installation includes an antenna that mounts outside and a modem that is installed indoors. The modem interfaces between wires from the antenna and another cable (Ethernet, it's called) that connects to the back of your router or PC.


General System Configuration   Typical Subscriber Equipment


Is WiMAX the same as WiFi?

No, WiMAX and WiFi are two very different things.

If you have more than one PC in your house, you can set up a network so that all of your PCs can communicate with each other, while sharing a single connection to the internet. You will need other hardware to do that. A common way is to create a home network using WiFi technology.

For the purposes of the Internet Access Service, remember:

  • WiMAX is used to connect your home to the internet, and

  • WiFi is used within the home (or office) to configure a local network.

The hardware for these two technologies is not interchangeable, and the radio signals will not interfere with each other.


Go to www.linksys.com for
more information on setting up
a WiFi home network



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