Cisco Blogs


- April 10, 2006 - 2 Comments

WiMAx and WIFI what’s all the hubbub? People often ask me about the two technologies. Here is my reader’s digest answer….One of the most common questions that I receive about our products from our enterprise customers is:”Please explain your WiMAX plans?”I generally answer the question with another simple question:”Do you own any spectrum?””œNo.””œThen why do you want WiMAX?” I’ll ask.”Because I can have greater coverage areas,” is the answer. Well everyone I’m going on the record as saying the following: A wave form, is a wave form, is a wave form (If the blogging system allowed me to write that as a wave it would be cool, but it doesn’t- then again maybe you can imagine written as a wave?). What does that mean? It means that WiFi, Bluetooth, and WiMAX, when they operate in an unlicensed spectrum have to obey the local regulations for that spectrum. This means that there are very tightly regulated power output and antenna requirements in each band. That’s not to say that WiMAX does not have its place. It does. Specifically in *private* spectrum, backhauling traffic out of cell sites. The WiMAX MAC already has stringent QoS built into it. That means that your local network operator can backhaul traffic out of a cell tower without paying their local phone company. This is a good thing because it will hopefully get my cell phone bill a bit smaller. Whoa! Matt- what about WiMAX to the desktop? I’ll go back to my previous statement, do you own your own spectrum? I suspect that the WiMAX war to the desktop is not really a WIFI vs. WiMAX war , it is 3G vs. WiMAX war. If a private network operator was daring then they could try to ‘change the game’ by developing the first all WiMAX network. The economics might be difficult because someone would have to develop pervasive WiMAX end points (think cell phones and laptops). I think that an established GSM or CDMA operator would have a difficult time explaining to shareholders why the billions of dollars that they have sunk into 3G infrastructures was all for not and they are going to change their cell sites.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Please tell me what the letters WI-FI stand for. Thanks

  2. Matt,Do you still have the same opinion here? Given all of the Government spending on 802.11 rollout etc. is a boom not certain?ThanksChris