WiMAX history

- overview of WiMAX history and how the IEEE 802.16 standard has developed from its early beginnings.

The history of WiMAX starts back in the 1990s with the realisation that there would be a significant increase in data traffic over telecommunications networks. With wired telecommunications networks being very expensive, especially I outlying areas and not installed in many countries, wire-less methods were investigated.

WiMAX history started with these investigations into what was termed the last mile connectivity - methods of delivering high speed data to a large number of users who may have no existing wired connection.

The possibility of low cost last mile connectivity along with the possibility of a system that could handle backhaul over a wireless link proved to be a compelling argument to develop a new wireless data link system.

IEEE standard developed

The next major phase in WiMAX history was the development of the standards by the IEEE.

The 802.16 standards working group was set up by the IEEE in 1999 under the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee. The first 802.16 standard was approved in December 2001and this was followed by two amendments to the basic 802.16 standard. These amendments addressed issues of radio spectrum and interoperability and came under the designations 802.16a and 802.16c.

In September 2003 a major revision project was commenced. This had the aim of aligning the standard with the European / ETSI HIPERMAN standard. It was also intended to incorporate conformance test specifications within the overall standard. The project was completed in 2004 and the standard was released as 802.16d, although it is often referred to as 802.16-2004 in view of the release date. With the release of the 802.16-2004 standard, the previous 802.16 documents, including the a, b, and c amendments were withdrawn.

By Ian Poole


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