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The role of 802.16

Do you think that the new IEEE 802.16 standards will gain acceptance by enterprises? How do you think they'll affect the market?
IEEE 802.16 refers to the family of standards that define Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) airlinks, used to create Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).

  • The first 802.16 standard, completed in 2001, specified fixed point-to-multipoint broadband wireless systems operating in the 10-66 GHz licensed spectrum. These links provide high bandwidth "first-mile" access by base stations to public carrier networks.
  • The 802.16a amendment, approved in January 2003, specified non-line-of-sight extensions in the 2-11 GHz spectrum, delivering up to 70 Mbps at distances up to 31 miles.
  • Work recently began on 802.16e, an amendment that will define mobility extensions to 802.16, which currently serves only fixed devices. These extensions may someday allow a subscriber device to move around within a base station's coverage area.
802.16 is a wireless replacement for the expensive T1 links that typically connect offices to each other and to the Internet. 802.16 is complementary to 802.11, a wireless alternative to Ethernet LANs. Envision an office using 802.11 to connect WLAN stations to a broadband router. Using 802.16, that router will soon be able to connect upstream to the Internet over a wireless MAN.

High-speed wireless uplinks can help ISPs and telcos meet escalating demand for broadband access from homes, small businesses, large enterprises and public hot spot operators. 802.16a makes WMANs more cost-effective by circumventing line-of-site requirements and enabling at least some operation in unlicensed spectrum. The WiMax Forum will test 802.16-compliant products for interoperability and help to promote one global standard for WMANs. These developments have generated new market buzz around 802.16 and are expected to spur 802.16 product development and carrier deployment in 2004.

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