Imagine a world where wireless Internet was literally everywhere. You could work - and play - anywhere you wanted. You could open up your laptop and answer a few urgent emails while having your car's oil changed.You could even go to the park and watch an episode of your favorite TV show while also enjoying a nice spring day.
In the past these scenarios were pure fantasy. While there are many businesses which offer WiFi, there are also many businesses which do not. Even when downtown in a city like San Francisco or Miami you'll have difficulty finding a WiFi signal which is usable. And even if you do find a usable signal you have to worry about security. Logging into your online bank account over public WiFi is a great way to have your identity stolen.
However, there is now a way to make these fantasies a reality. A new technology known as 4G WiMAX promises to bring WiFi to entire cities, letting you access wireless Internet from anywhere.
4G WiMAX Compared to DSL and Cable
Current 4G WiMAX implementations are capable of average download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1Mbps. Peak download speeds may be as high as 10 Mbps depending on the service being used.
This is competitive with more traditional broadband services, such as DSL and Cable. Basic DSL plans usually start at a speed of 1.5 Mbps through companies such as Qwest and Earthlink, while cable Internet providers such as Comcast offer cable broadband with speeds starting at 1 to 3 Mbps, depending on your location.
Current WiMAX technology can't match the highest possible DSL and Cable speeds, which usually peak at around 20Mbps on the most expensive service plans. Of course, DSL and Cable can't offer the ability to use wireless Internet anywhere in your city. The hardware required to make use of 4G WiMAX is also often less expensive. Laptops which are already WiMAX enabled will not require additional hardware, and all other computers can use a WiMAX USB adapter to access the Internet. Purchasing this adapter is usually less expensive than purchasing the modem and router which would be required to enable wireless Internet in your home.
Note that some residential implementations in rural areas are an exception to this, as the long distances involved require that a large direction dish be mounted outside the home.