Ive known for a while that theres nothing like a move to cause one to reassess old habits, but it wasnt until just this month that I ever thought of DSL as a habit. Then again, Ive always lived in areas well served by broadband providers. This time around, though, not only did I find myself moving to a location where DSL coverage isnt so good, but a newer kind of wireless broadband called WiMAX has come to town, offering few enough strings to make it worth trying out.
WiMAX has been around for a few years. Practically Networkeds sibling site Enterprise Networking Planet has been reporting on WiMAX since 2004, and it has seen a lot of use in Asian markets, but in the United States its still largely a regional phenomenon, with nationwide deployments still pending. WiMAX is interesting for several reasons:
- Its wireless, so theres no need to depend on laying new line or wiring up a building.
- It offers specifications for mobile and fixed use, so an ISP can provision its customers with hardware to handle both kinds of use instead of relying on separate wired/wireless infrastructure.
- WiMAX base stations can provide service to end points many miles away (though theres a trade off in speed as distances increase).
WiMAX became interesting to me when I moved from one end of Portland, Oregon to another and found that the CO for my new house was a distant 11,000 feet away. My family isnt the most bandwidth-hungry group on the block, but between our normal Web surfing, VoIP phone service and a Roku Netflix player we brought home at Christmas, weve found ourselves straining at the 3Mbps leash DSL imposed on us. At our new house, we learned, wed be lucky to get 3Mbps connections, and even then wed lose speed on our uplink.
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