WiMAX is a revolutionary technology for wireless broadband voice, data and video transfer at large distances. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, it received the name WiMAX by the WiMAX Forum in 2001, when it was found to provide communication, support and interoperability of the standard. The technology is suitable for building high-speed network, which is used to provide various services such as internet access, fixed telephone service, voice and data transfer, connection between offices, fax, urban and interurban virtual private networks, video information, multimedia applications, etc.
The WiMAX services replace the traditional services provided through LAN, cable modems, optics or DSL technology.
WiMAX has millions of backers throughout the world. Companies like Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Clearwire, Nokia give strong support for its development and success. The number of the deployed WiMAX networks constantly increases. According to WiMAX Forum they are more than 350 at the moment. Geographically they are mainly in Europe (33%), North America (17%), Central and Latin America (13%), Asia and the Pacific (38%).
The technology enables telecoms to overcome their dependence on the infrastructure of the incumbent operator and to offer integrated services to end users via their own wireless network. WiMAX is a symbol of escape from monopoly and it is a real alternative to the incumbent provider of telecommunications services. Moreover, it allows delivery of telecommunications services in short terms, in urban and rural environment, as well as in far-distanced regions with bad or missing infrastructure.
Unlike the networks based on Ethernet (the so called LAN-providers) or the coaxial cables of the cable television operators, WiMAX is not a shared structure – each customer has its own, private, and protected connection to the network supplier. WiMAX is much like a Wi-Fi network, but, unlike it, covers tens of kilometers, instead of hundreds of meters, and at the same time, it is totally resistant to the weather conditions and disturbances. Other characteristics are the symmetric channel and the guaranteed capacity. These allow the use of a variety of communication services simultaneously, without worsening the quality of any of them. Besides, direct line-of-sight is not needed for the establishment of WiMAX conenction, whereas it is obligatory for Wi-Fi systems. This means that regardless of the infrastructure of the city (the presence of high buildings or trees), the technology allows continuous and reliable connectivity.
What stands out as one of the most essential advantages of WiMAX is a particular combination of low prices and high bandwidth. On one hand, building a WiMAX network through installations of wireless base stations that provide coverage over long distances, takes less time and money compared to the laying of cables in the ground. On the other hand, the service itself does not rise the cost for the end user, who receives the necessary equipment from the provider without having to pay additionally for it.
Worldwide, WiMAX is considered as a top technology and its adoption in the family of 3G standards by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has led to significant benefits for its future development. This will encourage companies to use it to deliver a new generation services. This will also allow its usage as an addition to other 3G technologies, will make possible the implementation of roaming at a global level, and will lead to a reduction in the price of the equipment.
For the past few years WiMAX is experiencing fast development, as for the next few years it will undergo even more dynamic development: a severe increase in the number of the working WiMAX networks worldwide, certification of the equipment for the mobile services, increase in the revenue from sales of equipment and services . The biggest boom in the supply of WiMAX service is expected with the market launch of mobile customer devices with integrated mobile WiMAX (laptops, PDA, GSM), thus making possible the use of high-speed Internet and phone services anywhere, even in motion.
In 2005, Nexcom-Bulgaria won a WiMAX licence, enabling the company to build a WiMAX wireless network with nationwide coverage. Currently, the WiMAX network of Nexcom covers nearly half of the population in the country. The company's main objective is to make the high speed Internet accessible to all Bulgarian users and to offer a real cost-competitive alternative to the dominant operator.