updated 07:40 am EDT, Mon August 16, 2010
WiMAX 2 finalizing soon with 100Mbps speeds
Intel's upcoming WiMAX 2 standard should be much faster than the existing standard in practice, the WiMAX Forum's marketing lead Declan Byrne said this weekend. Existing WiMAX often tops at just 3-6Mbps according to estimates from Clear and Sprint, but the new 802.16m version should provide average speeds over 100Mbps, Byrne told Computerworld. Range would be the same as it would use the same frequencies, such as the 2.5GHz band in the US.
The standard should be ratified in November and could be in commercial use as soon as 2012. Clear and Sprint are the most likely to use it as they share one of the largest WiMAX networks on the planet.
An upgrade of the sort could have a significant impact on Internet use, as 100Mbps would outpace most current landline access and would permit streaming 1080p video or other very high-bandwidth apps. WiMAX is also much lower latency than 3G and is already more practical for time-sensitive functions such as video chat.
The speed ramp may be crucial to halting the advance of LTE, which should reach the US starting with Verizon in the fall and should have significant coverage on all major cellphone networks but Sprint's by the 2012 launch of WiMAX 2. The competing 4G standard has lower latency and improved speeds as well, but in its current form peaks at about 12Mbps in actual conditions. Clear is nonetheless due to test an LTE network as a hedge against its WiMAX bet.