Ok ok I know this is old news for most of you. I just can find this time to write a bit about it.
Technically speaking WiMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. It is a common misconception to consider WiMAX and Wi-Fi as similar technologies. The fact that they both start with same letter and governed by IEEE standard 802x. makes them easier to be confused.
Wi-Fi, which most of us are familiar with and use everyday is targeted for short range access (10m) and is suitable for Intranet or hotspot coverage for a small area. It was never meant for ISPs to distribute Internet access. Wi-Fi uses unlicensed radio spectrum, otherwise you’ll need to apply for a license from MCMC each time you buy a wireless access point 😉
In the other hand, WiMAX can go up to 70km and is suitable for last mile/km distribution of Internet access from ISPs. The issue with licensing that we saw in the news is because WiMAX utilizes a licensed radio spectrum so not just anyone can operate a WiMAX access point.
Do take note, however all of the maximum ranges are still effected by the line-of-sight limitation so even if you live very near to a WiMAX access point but you live behind a hill you might not get the maximum 70Mbps speed that WiMAX can handle. That’s a nice pair of numbers – 70km/70Mbps.
I ain’t going to talk about the license grantees as there are so many sites talking about them by now. Good for them. I just hope by the target deployment time they don’t run out of funds or anything like that, for a full roll out.
Once concern many people have is the price that is going to be offered for WiMAX services in Malaysia. I read somewhere (I lost track) that the minimum price planned is RM188 per month. But hey, RM88 for 2Mbps or RM188 for 70Mbps – your choice. Then again, if you can get the full speed.
All these speed talk does not really matter much to anyone, as that’s not the real speed you’ll be accessing the Internet anyway. That’s the speed between users and the final termination point at the ISP. What really matters now is the International link. If you are having a hard time understanding this – try and recall the submarine cable break that occurred not long ago, when we all suffered when trying to access International sites. So if the 4 ISPs offering WiMAX are using those link as well – sad to say the outcome would still be the same, even if you have 70Mbps connection!
Many factors have to be considered before ditching Streamyx and taking hold of WiMAX. One very important factor is the services you want to access within Malaysia. As I now have several services located in MyLoca (TMNET data center), and of course my office is using TM leased line, I will need to analyze whether the traffic will go directly to TMNET network or hop to some other country first then make a U-turn back to Malaysia. If latter is the case, and the latency is too high then I rather stay with the Streamyx.
OK I hear someone shouting there, that mobility is important. This is correct as well – WiMAX is wireless so you can basically get online anywhere. I have yet to research on what kind of devices are needed but I am hoping that they will be small in size and you can take it around in your notebook case or in your pocket. Well, everything shrinks in time.
3G? Yes… it can go up to 140km which is double than WiMAX but the max speed is merely 384kpbs. For RM100+ per month, you decide which one worth more for your pocket.
So everyone, are you ready for WiMAX?