Now that we're all used to the localized wireless of Wi-Fi, it's time to get friendly with the wide coverage of WiMAX technology. WiMAX has the potential to bring wireless broadband to the masses, and it's already up and running in some major cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. There are two major applications for WiMAX: fixed and mobile. Fixed WiMAX is positioned to compete with DSL and cable. Mobile WiMAX can provide cellularlike service and enable mobile data applications for smartphones, laptops and other portable devices.
When it comes to fixed WiMAX, businesses within the coverage zone of provider Towerstream, for example, can get T1-style 1.5 Mbps internet access for $389 per month. On the mobile WiMAX front, Sprint Nextel and wireless broadband provider Clearwire have partnered to roll the service out to 100 million users by the end of 2008. Clearwire is already an established supplier of portable services. A big advantage of mobile WiMAX is the high bandwidth for data-intensive uses. Intel has thrown its considerable weight behind the technology by developing products that support both types of WiMAX. Entrepreneurs in major markets can look forward to WiMAX becoming a viable option over the next couple of years, though they'll need to upgrade or adapt their mobile devices for use with the new technology.