Evolution of Broadband Wireless


The history of broadband wireless as it relates to WiMAX can be traced back to the desire to find a competitive alternative to traditional wireline-access technologies.

Spurred by the deregulation of the telecom industry and the rapid growth of the Internet, several competitive carriers were motivated to find a wireless solution to bypass incumbent service providers. During the past decade or so, a number of motivated by the disruptive potential of wireless.

These systems varied widely in their performance capabilities, protocols, frequency spectrum used, applications supported, and a host of other parameters. Some systems were commercially deployed only to be decommissioned later. 

Successful deployments have so far been limited to a few niche applications and markets. Clearly, broadband wireless has until now had a checkered record, in part because of the fragmentation of the industry due to the lack of a common standard. The emergence of WiMAX as an industry standard is expected to change this situation.

Given the wide variety of solutions developed and deployed for broadband wireless in the past, a full historical survey of these is beyond the scope of this section. 

Instead, we provide a brief review of some of the broader patterns in this development.

WiMAX technology has evolved through four stages, albeit not fully distinct or
clearly sequential: (1) narrowband wireless local-loop systems, (2) first-generation line-of-sight (LOS) broadband systems, (3) second-generation non-line-of-sight (NLOS) broadband systems, and (4) standards-based broadband wireless systems.