Wimax Is Coming: The 700 Mhz Spectrum Research Proposal

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WiMAX is Coming: The 700 MHz spectrum -- will it enable the WiMAX revolution?

WiMAX, the abbreviation for the term "Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access" is often defined as the most promising new technology that can provide a viable broadband wireless access alternative to cable modem service, telephone company Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service and T1/E1 service. It offers a potentially broader and higher-quality range of combined applications than either cable or DSL including: broadband internet access, T1/E1 substitutes for businesses, voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP), Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), backhaul for Wi-Fi hotspots and cell phone towers, mobile telephone service, mobile data TV, mobile emergency response services, and wireless backhaul as substitute for fiber optic cable (Ohrtman, "What is WiMAX," 2008, Sec.1-4). Because of its voice-over and television components, it could provide an alternative to both telephone and cable television carriers, not simply domestically but worldwide. The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) freeing up of the 700 MHz spectrum and auctioning of the spectrum to the highest bidders by the FCC offers the potential for WiMAX to dominate telecommunications in the near future. The higher level quality of WiMAX, its cheapness, and its enhanced privacy components has caused many existing and new companies to purchase the available spectrum to provide WiMAX in the future.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Proposal on Wimax Is Coming: The 700 Mhz Spectrum Assignment

Before, one of the issues that had arisen with regard to mobile WiMAX was "the scarcity of spectrum available for it, particularly in the U.S., where Sprint Nextel and Clearwire own virtually all the 2.5GHz licenses," creating issues of competition which the freeing up of spectrum will alleviate (Wexler 2007). Some WiMAX services have been slotted for the 5 GHz, an unlicensed band, with lower costs of service. But with unlicensed spectrum, all users are considered equal, making it difficult for operators to control the effects of outside interference generated by other providers. The greatest strength of WiMAX is to offer service to large areas of people, making it "desirable for mobile WiMAX deployments to be delivered in licensed bands, because they give the carrier licensee complete control over the use of their slice of the spectrum pie, thereby allowing that carrier to confidently offer enforceable service-level agreements" (Wexler 2007).

WiMAX theoretically could solve many the major problems offered by current forms of Internet and wireless connectivity. Broadband and DSL are expensive and are not offered in all areas of the country and Wi-Fi access is limited to certain 'hot spots' which means providers have little control over the availability to customers (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3). WiMAX is inexpensive because it uses no wire-based connections and offers better speed, privacy, and reliability. WiMAX is often called "Wi-Fi on steroids" given that it has a greater service range, greater speed, greater quality of service, and also offers better security than Wi-Fi (Ohrtman, 'What is WiMAX," 2008, Sec.1-4). "The limited range and throughput of Wi-Fi means that a Wi-Fi service provider must deploy multiple access points in order to cover the same area and service the same number of customers as one WiMAX base station" (Ohrtman, 'What is WiMAX," 2008, Sec.1-4). WiMAX outdistances Wi-Fi by miles in terms of its speed and ability to provide Internet access. "The fastest Wi-Fi connection can transmit up to 54 megabits per second under optimal conditions. WiMAX should be able to handle up to 70 megabits per second Wi-Fi's range is about 100 feet (30 m). WiMAX will blanket a radius of 30 miles (50 km) with wireless access" (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3). A single WiMAX tower can offer enough bandwidth to support hundreds of businesses with T1 speeds and thousands of residential customers with the equivalent of DSL services from one base station.

Potentially, WiMAX will provide two forms of wireless service, a "non-line-of-sight, Wi-Fi sort of service" where a small antenna on a computer connects to a WiMAX tower, using a lower frequency range -- 2 GHz to 11 GHz. This level of frequency is similar to Wi-Fi, but the signals are not as easily blocked by physical obstructions like buildings. It can also offer a line-of-sight service, where a fixed dish antenna points straight at the WiMAX tower from a rooftop. "Line-of-sight transmissions use higher frequencies, with ranges reaching a possible 66 GHz. At higher frequencies, there is less interference and lots more bandwidth," potentially providing a whole city with access (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3). Wi-Fi-style access will be limited to a 4-to-6-mile radius but with the stronger line-of-sight antennas, "the WiMAX transmitting station would send data to WiMAX-enabled computers or routers set up within the transmitter's 30-mile radius" and could provide access to the entire financial district of a city, for example, or an entire town in a rural location (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3). A WiMAX tower can connect to the Internet using a high-bandwidth, wired connection or to another WiMAX tower using a microwave link. "This connection to a second tower (often referred to as a backhaul), along with the ability of a single tower to cover up to 3,000 square miles, is what allows WiMAX to provide coverage to remote rural areas" (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3).

Today, one common problem experienced by current Wi-Fi users is that Wi-Fi does not often work in remote settings, or areas with poor reception due to topography. When, in 2008 the FCC began to auction the "potent wireless spectrum in the 700 MHz space that has been freed due to the move from analog to digital" the need to offer more services to individuals living outside of the metro area was one of the justifications cited for this action (Barthold 2006). The end of analog signals in the age of the digital revolution has been called the perfect convergence of technology and circumstance for WiMAX. "What makes 700 MHz spectrum exceptionally attractive for wireless broadband operators is the cost dynamics of system deployments: the lower the frequency of operation, the farther signals propagate and penetrate through trees and buildings and bend around obstacles. This has a dramatic impact on the cost of deployments compared to systems operating at higher frequencies" (Ohrtman, "USA & Canada 700 MHz Regulatory & Market Analysis,' 2008). "WiMAX could potentially erase the suburban and rural blackout areas that currently have no broadband Internet access because phone and cable companies have not yet run the necessary wires to those remote locations" (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.1). WiMAX thus could bridge the final gaps in the digital divide as well as provide better service to current users.

Today, no community can afford to be left out of the digital revolution. For example, during an emergency such as Hurricane Katrina speedy communication is essential and many poorer areas have limited access to Wi-Fi. During Katrina, WiMAX was used by FEMA and FCC in coordinating their efforts in the region. WiMAX is less subject to the types of interference that can occur during a natural or man-made disaster. Recent events have underlined that it is vital for government agencies, emergency workers, and people on the ground to coordinate operations and more widespread use WiMAX could facilitate communication in a way that could save lives as well as make life more convenient. Landlines are becoming a thing of the past, and no area can afford to be without high-quality access to the Internet and cell phones. "Communication is crucial for government officials as they try to determine the cause of the problem, find out who may be injured and coordinate rescue efforts or cleanup operations. A gas-line explosion or terrorist attack could sever the cables that connect leaders and officials with their vital information networks. WiMAX could be used to set up a back-up (or even primary) communications system that would be difficult to destroy with a single, pinpoint attack. A cluster of WiMAX transmitters would be set up in range of a key command center but as far from each other as possible. Each transmitter would be in a bunker hardened against bombs and other attacks. No single attack could destroy all of the transmitters, so the officials in the command center would remain in communication at all times" (Grabianowski, & Marshall 2008, p.3).

An additional concern addressed by WiMAX that could make it useful to government entities is that of privacy. Privacy regarding Wi-Fi has become an issue for business and government entities as well as individuals, given the widespread knowledge that Wi-Fi is easy to 'eavesdrop' on, which means that hackers can gain access to everything from private information like social security and credit card numbers, to internet addresses and passwords. Thus the greater security offered by WiMAX is another of its potential benefits.

Regardless, the use of WiMAX technologies will continue to spread, as it has exponentially since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened up the 700 MHz spectrum only a short while ago. It may also result in a wider array of providers. "The auction winners in four different blocks of the 700 MHz spectrum (a, B, C and E) include… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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