The World Loves Wi-Fi and WiMAX

The technology leaves its mark on security


WiMAX may be a bit longer coming to the market and will have a tough row to hoe in the video segment. Vittore noted the huge capacity demands of video. "Video sucks up so much bandwidth," he added.

Yet, Shakouri acknowledged the challenge. "We need to handle higher data rates and leverage multiple technologies," he said. He noted the demand from utility companies seeking to safeguard and monitor the Smart Grid and for public safety departments to be able to obtain and secure their security data. It is not good if the bad guys can listen in on transmissions. The WiMAX Forum concentrated first on security of the transmissions. When WiMAX-3 comes out, Shakouri said, it will likely provide gigabit coverage. "100 MB will not be enough," he said. "And I'm 100 percent sure we will see wider channels-in the 100 MHz range."

The big advantage of WiMAX is the distances it covers. WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access up to 30 miles for fixed stations and three to 10 miles for mobile stations. That is incrementally better than Wi-Fi's wireless local area network standard which stretches only to 300 feet. With WiMAX, the issue of interference is lessened since it offers bandwidth in the licensed spectrum.

With WiMAX-2, the technology can provide higher system capacity with a peak rate of 300 Mbps and lower latency. Under WiMAX-2, the 802.16m standard will meet the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) requirements for 4G or "IMT-Advanced."

Companies like Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE as well as the Taiwanese Research Organization, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), worked with the WiMAX Forum to accelerate the implementation of interoperable system profiles for WiMAX-2.

With 802.16m approved as a standard, Shakouri expects companies to roll out product at the end of this year or early in 2012. "Timing depends on the vendors," he said.

North American companies have been slow to embrace WiMAX, however. The standard enjoys much higher adoption rates in Asia, Europe and Africa than it does in the United States or Canada.

The newer iterations of WiMAX may answer that challenge. Whether for home security or monitoring campus or area-wide video surveillance, Shakouri maintains that video is one of the areas where WiMAX offers significant advantages. It has reach, security and bandwidth, he said. But, he added, the ultimate solution will involve multiple technologies.

"At the end of the day, Wi-Fi or ZigBee will act in the local area and WiMAX will provide the wide-area coverage. The key is integrating multiple technologies that will give an end-to-end solution."