Intel's recent announcement stating its intent to offer chips to support the IEEE 802.16a standard significantly advances the efforts of the fixed wireless access (FWA) industry. FWA has been around for years, but a lack of standards, high equipment costs, and the nagging need for direct line-of-sight (LOS) links have kept fixed wireless from penetrating either the metro or so-called "last-mile" markets.
Now with the support of Intel plus a newly revised and updated standard (IEEE 802.16a), along with new booster organization WiMAX, the FWA industry may be poised for a comeback. Ultimately, it could garner a permanent share of the growing wireless movement. The 802.16a standard defines a wireless metropolitan-area network (WMAN) technology that fills a gap in the wireless networking roadmap. What's missing is an intermediate wireless service that can help connect other wireless systems. For example, 802.16a could serve as a back-haul function to connect Wi-Fi hot spots to the Internet. It's also a good way to provide wireless connectivity over a larger campus area that exceeds the 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) range of 100 meters. And, many view 802.16a as "the" wireless broadband connection that can provide high-speed Internet connections to homes not currently served by cable or DSL systems. This "last mile" link could generate lots of interest and revenue if the cost can be kept in line with other broadband connections and the irksome line-of-sight problem is solved.
Another big booster for FWA has been the formation of the WiMAX Forum, short for the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access Forum. This nonprofit industry trade organization was created by a mix of leading communications component and equipment companies to promote FWA and certify compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless access equipment.
For details, visit www.intel.com or www.wimaxforum.org.