New WiMAX standard passed for metropolitan Wi-Fi

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers last month approved the 802.16e specification as the standard to be used to enable metropolitan area wireless networks.

The technology will be known as Wi-MAN, for Wireless Metropolitan Area Network, or WiMAX, for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. It extends the 802.16 standard previously approved for such networks by specifying a system for combined fixed and mobile broadband wireless access in licensed bands under 6 GHz.

The technology works with existing Wi-Fi networks, enabling users to move between Wi-Fi and WiMAX connections. The technology has been used in pilots for various applications. The WiMAX Forum, a group of internet service providers and equipment manufacturers, will begin certifying technologies that ensure interoperability among current and future 802.16 technologies in late 2006 or early 2007.