Views: 1245 Wi-Fi vs. WiMax – Wi Do I Care?
Wi Fi Fo Fum, I think I smell the blood…oops wrong tale. Thisstory doesn’t involve giants, but it does involve giant leapsforward in technology that will affect us all.
The other day I was watching two kids play. Each had a tin canup to their ear and they were speaking to each other on the‘phone’. Talk about technological leaps. Yes, the string that Iused as a kid to hook up this intricate communication system haddisappeared, and they were now wireless!
When I was Batman back then, the string always kept me closeenough to Robin so we could hear each other, even around the cornerof a cinder block wall. Unrestricted by ‘the magic string’ thesekids tended to drift out of range from time to time. Showing truegenius, they engaged Billy’s little brother to position himself onmiddle ground, and he relayed wireless messages back and forth.They called him ‘tower’. I laughed.
It really is a reflection of a changing world. We’ve gone fromHiFi to Wi-Fi, and next on the endless chain is WiMax. Thetransition from ‘High Fidelity’, which simply related to soundquality, to ‘Wireless Fidelity’ or Wi-Fi, took about thirty-elevenyears. The transition to WiMax is already in play, yet most of ushaven’t figured out what Wi-Fi is really all about.
According to the ‘Webopedia’, the term is promulgated by theWi-Fi Alliance, and is short for Wireless Fidelity as I indicatedabove. What it means is that you can access the Internet from alaptop computer with the right stuff (wireless card) in variouslocations without the burden of a physical wire.
Hold it – Webopedia? Yikes! Yes, it’s real, and it defines andexplains web ‘stuff’. I guess Babe Ruth probably thought thatEncyclopedias were on the bleeding edge, yet I wrote my 7th gradeessay all about him using that standard, great source of knowledge.Makes you wonder what ‘pedia’ is next doesn’t it?
It goes on to say that any products tested and approved as Wi-Ficertified (a registered trademark) by the Wi-Fi Alliance arecertified as interoperable with each other, even if from differentmanufacturers.
That’s kind of like Fords & Toyotas use the same gas to makethem go, and their owners use the same ramps and highways to pickup milk, or go to the cottage. Even Hudson Hornets used a leadedversion of the same fuel.
An example where this wasn’t so well planned is the access tothe electricity grids in Europe as opposed to North America. Thesame plugs don’t work in both places.
Rather than making that mistake, the Alliance has created anaccepted standard so that manufacturers create equipment, and thelike, that can be used in a similar fashion to access the web. Thatmeans that your laptop, regardless of brand, will use the same‘hot-spots’ to get access. Hot-spots are areas where the facility,like Starbucks or the hotel that owns the lobby, has put in theproper equipment to provide access from your wireless card to thegreat big cloud called the Internet. The wireless card is the gasfor the Fords & Toyotas, and the hot-spot is the on ramp.
And therein lie both the beauty and the problem. The beauty isthat I can access the web from Starbucks in Atlanta, as well as ahotel lobby in Vancouver. If you’ve ever seen someone doing thehippy-hippy shake with their computer in their hands, you’reprobably witnessing the problem. Wi-Fi access is limited in bothspeed and distance. The twisting person was probably trying to geta more consistent signal in the ‘hot-spot’.
Enter WiMax. That’s not Max Smart and his wireless shoecommunications, but it is the next generation of Wi-Fi. Accordingto WiMaxxed.com it “will connect you to the Internet at fasterspeeds and from much longer ranges than current wireless technologyallows.” They go on to say “WiMax promises up to a ten mile rangewithout wires, and broadband speeds without cable or T1.”
The result – we are absolved from the penance of viewing way toomany hippy-hippy shakes. Well, not so fast, don’t throw out yourdancin’ shoes quite yet. It’s not on the Wal-Mart shelves for nextChristmas, but there are a lot of indicators that it’s real, andit’s just around the corner.
First of all, it is an acronym for Worldwide InteroperabilityFor Microwave Access, and it has actually been in the works forquite a while now. An article titled ‘FCC Move Could Boost WiMax’,states “A number of vendors and carriers have announced products,testing, or support for the standard in the last month, includingIntel, Nokia, AT&T, BellSouth, Sprint, and Motorola.” Thesecompanies aren’t akin to Duke’s Pool Room – these are the bigboys.
The article continues to say, “Congress has been lobbied formonths now to free more frequencies for wireless broadband.”
AlcaTel states that WiMax will “bridge the digital divide bydelivering broadband in low-density areas.” If you really studythat statement, you can see where we are in the world today. Wheregovernments once ensured that all residents were able to receivephone service in the Ma Bell days, that lingo is now being used inrelation to broadband access to the Internet. May everybody haveequal access is the refrain, but only if it’s high speed!
So instead of hot-spot hopping, WiMax will provide true wirelessmobility. And there’s more. In an article by Al Senia of America’sNetwork, he states that ‘Phone manufacturers such as Samsung and LGare expected to introduce Wi-Fi handsets compatible with thisservice by year’s end.”
O.K., so that’s VoIP, except it’s wireless VoIP in hot-spots.Next is WiMax, with wide-area wireless VoIP.
To be sure, there are quality and security issues to beresolved, whether that’s for surfing, voice applications, or agazillion other Internet applications, before wider marketacceptance is achieved. However, I attended a recent presentationby the Gartner Group, where the presenter stated emphatically thatsecurity is not an ‘if’ but rather ‘how much’. His meaning wasclearly that the level of security required for businessapplications will be achieved, and that commercial providers willfind the economic model that works. Ditto for quality.
We used to trade information at the speed of the Pony Express,when the air was just filled with farm smells. Now when the air isfilled with zeros and ones, information is transferred at speedsfaster than Clark Kent. If we’re to remain on competitive evenground, we had better pay attention to these applications that areon the horizon. We have to assume that our competitors are payingattention.
It took a century to transform from Alexander Bell’s basicinvention to wireless phones. However, in the last decade alone,the Internet has met with wide acceptance by business, VoIP hasbecome more common, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi VoIP is now a reality, andWiMax and wide area wireless VoIP is very nearly on the market.
In the past, I’ve often used an example of future possibilitiesby alluding to a chip in our eyebrows that can transmit holographicimages around the globe. That’s not even that far-fetched anymore,so I guess I’ll have to come up with a better example. I’m going tohave to track down the Jetsons and Star Trek reruns.
“Grandpa, why is the sky blue?” That’s always been a puzzler.What on earth are you going to say when the question is “Grandpa,why is the sky zeros and ones?” That’s when you ask yourself, “Wime?”
That begs another question. Where do all the zeros and ones gowhen they’re used up? Is there a big Z&O dump somewhere? Orshould that be backwards – OZ. Oh, that Wizard, I knew he was up tosomething.
This Article was provided by ArticleGold: Article DirectoryAdditional Information Dennis Schooley, BBA, CA
Dennis Schooley is the Founder of Schooley Mitchell TelecomConsultants, a Professional Services Franchise Company. He writesfor publication, as well as for schooleymitchell.blogging.com andfranchises.blogging.com, in the subject areas of Franchising, andTechnology for the Layman.
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