10 Reasons WISPs prefer WiFi to WiMax

With all the media attention and hype around WiMax this list may help you understand why not to discount practical Wifi technologies that are solving real world problems today. WAPA estimates that 40000+ clients are connected using outdoor Wifi and a potential 1Million more people who have laptops with Wifi features.

WISPs (Wireless ISPs) prefer Wifi to WiMax because:

1. Outdoor WiFi solutions are tried, proven, tested and stable.
WiMax has yet to prove itself and may not deliver on all its promises.

2. No company has a commercial WiMax network running in SA as yet.

3. WiMax equipment, both network backbone equipment and end user devices,
are significantly more expensive than Wifi equipment.

4. WiMax is not built into consumer devices, and won’t be a for a long time.
WiFi is rapidly being incorporated into more and more mobile devices:
mobile phones end even the new iPods.

5. WiMax hardware is controlled by the big name electronics companies like
Motorola, Intel, Alvarion.

Inexpensive commodity (Chinese and Korean) WiMax components are not
available as in the WiFi and PC industry giving wireless network
operators limited scope for innovation. Proprietary WiMax hardware
prevents innovation from the Open Source community.

6. WiMax’s non- line of site distribution model offer a shorter range than
WiFi’s line of site distribution, which requires a much higher density of
WiMax distribution points in metropolitan areas.

7. There is much less frequency spectrum available for WiMax than for WiFi
in the ISM bands. WiMax frequency spectrum is much more regulated by
governments, very expensive and usually only available to a small number of incumbent telecoms operators.

8. The new WiFi standards 802.11n has a better data-rate per frequency
density ratio than WiMax.

9. WiMax deployments in the Far East have shown that the WiFi business model
is superior to the WiMax model. **

10. Historically large network operators were customers of proprietary
technology vendors.

Wifi has created a disruptive change with a shift to inexpensive, mass
produced, standards based technologies which empower a broad spectrum of

WiMax is the evolution from proprietary technology to a standards based
model, but it is a technology in the hands of the proprietary technology
vendors who are being forced to evolve.


* Usage of the term “Wifi” refers to 802.11 and related technologies which
include use in outdoor networks and long distance links.

** Point 9 refers to a presentation on Wifi and WiMax given at iWeek 2006