Wireless Products
Intel® WiMAX Adapters
How Does WiMAX Work?

Overview
Cells
Equipment
WiMAX Standard at a Glance
Wireless Radio Signals
Technologies

Overview
Think of WiMAX1 as taking the best part of cellular network access–the part that allows you to easily connect anywhere within your service provider’s wide coverage area and taking the best part of your Wi-Fi experience—the fast speeds and a familiar broadband Internet experience. Then combine them into a new wireless standard. You will be able to get WiMAX as a subscription or pay-as-you-go service that lets you take your broadband with you, similar to the way you receive mobile phone service.

WiMAX is a Wide Area Network (WAN) technology. Service providers will deploy a network of towers that will enable access over many miles. Internet access is instantly available anywhere within coverage areas. And like Wi-Fi, WiMAX is a standards-based technology that will unleash the benefits of open markets and global economies of scale to deliver the devices and services that consumers want.

Cells
So how does WiMAX transmit the Internet over the landscape? The WiMAX network uses an approach that is similar to that of cell phones. Coverage for a geographical area is divided into a series of overlapping areas called cells. Each cell provides coverage for users within that immediate vicinity. When you travel from one cell to another, the wireless connection is handed off from one cell to another.

Equipment
The WiMAX network includes two key components: a base station and a subscriber device. The WiMAX base station is mounted on a tower or tall building to broadcast the wireless signal. The subscriber receives the signals on a WiMAX enabled notebook, mobile Internet device (MID), or even a WiMAX modem.

WiMAX Standard at a Glance
The WiMAX standard supports mobile, portable, and fixed service options. This enables wireless providers to offer broadband Internet access to areas underserved by telephone and cable companies. For fixed WiMAX deployments, service providers supply Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) that acts as a wireless “modem” to provide the interface to the WiMAX network for a specific location, such as a home, cafe, or office. WiMAX is also well suited for emerging markets as a cost-effective way to deliver high-speed Internet.

Wireless Radio Signals
Those bars on your cell phone or wireless notebook tell you the strength of your wireless signal. Behind those graphic indicators is the world of wireless communications. Wireless networks travel through the air using radio signals that operate on given frequencies, called spectrum. Over distance, signals weaken because of weather, buildings, and even foliage. This is why wireless networks rely on multiple towers with broadcasting areas that overlap to blanket a large region.

Spectrum is either licensed or unlicensed. Unlicensed spectrum is open to any users, which raises the possibility of interference from other devices. Wi-Fi networks use unlicensed spectrum. WiMAX service providers use licensed spectrum, which allows exclusive rights to its use for more predictability and stability.

Technologies
WiMAX is built on advanced wireless technologies that counteract the effects of interference to deliver more data at greater ranges. Two key advanced wireless breakthroughs incorporated into the Mobile WiMAX standard are Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MIMO) smart antenna technology. Both of these technologies effectively place more data into the available airwaves to increase throughput and/or coverage. MIMO is particularly beneficial in high interference environments, like urban centers.

  • OFDMA breaks a signal into many independent pieces before transmitting it across the airwaves in order to increase spectral efficiency. By diversifying the signal in this way, even if some of the pieces don’t make it through, the signal can still be reconstructed on the other end.
  • MIMO uses multiple antennas at both ends of the wireless connection (base station and subscriber device) to enable data to travel along multiple independent paths. For example, a 1x2 configuration refers to a device with 1 Tx (transmit) and 2 Rx (receive) antennas; similarly, 3x3 refers to 3 Tx and 3 Rx antennas.
1 WiMAX connectivity requires a WiMAX-enabled device and subscription to a WiMAX broadband service. WiMAX connectivity may require you to purchase additional software or hardware at extra cost. Availability of WiMAX is limited; check with your carrier for details on availability and network limitations. Broadband performance and results may vary due to environmental factors and other variables. See WiMAX Technology for more information.

Operating System:

Windows XP Professional x64 Edition*, Windows Vista Starter, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Home Basic, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Business, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Enterprise, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Ultimate, 32-bit version*, Windows Vista Home Basic, 64-bit version*, Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit version*, Windows Vista Business, 64-bit version*, Windows Vista Enterprise, 64-bit version*, Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit version*, Windows XP Starter Edition*, Windows 7 (32-bit)*, Windows 7 (64-bit)*, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition*, Windows XP Professional*, Windows XP Home Edition*, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition*, Windows XP Media Center Edition*

This applies to:

Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250
Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N + WiMAX 6150
Intel® WiMAX/WiFi Link 5350 and Intel® WiMAX/WiFi Link 5150 products

Solution ID: CS-029601
Last Modified: 27-Oct-2014
Date Created: 07-Aug-2008
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