Monday, August 16, 2004

Boning up on WiMax 802.16

As I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere, I'm a project support manager (read: Glorified Secretary) for a telecommunications firm (we build, design, and upgrade cell phone towers).

My boss recently told me to start in on some research for the WiMax 802.16 frequency band. WiMax is basically super Wifi. It allows for faster data transmission (up to 10 times faster than what phone towers in the US are pulling right now), and a greater signal strength, so towers have a range of 30 miles instead of 3 miles. This means good things for people in rural areas, like my parents, whose only option so far has been the exorbitantly expensive and finicky satellite internet. DSL *still* hasn't made its way out into the boonies where much of America lives (think: sprawling Midwest).

The proposal we're working on has to do with a small install of 802.16 (though, again, I can't say where or with who cause of all this confidentiality stuff). Hopefully, it'll get going September/October, with a finished project by December, so they'll be some operating WiMax by the New Year, albeit in a very narrow market (there are likely a number of other WiMax projects out there that my little firm/my little place in it doesn't have wind of: in fact, I'd bet there are already some towers upgraded for it, though again, I haven't read of them during my research).

So that's what I'm spending my work time doing right now: gearing up for the busy telecomm season. We've got talk of thousands of UMTS upgrades (upgrading from GSM), which means faster data for all, and, of course, the potential to get your own porn streamed right to your cell phone. Hey: I shoulda thought of that.

I'm interested in both projects, as they have the potential to get wireless internet hookups to just about everyone. I'm a big proponent of opening up the vast internet library to everyone. I recently switched from internet-cafe-ing in South Africa to wireless internet in my place in Chicago, and in the year since, I've discovered the blogosphere, got up my own webpage, and am probably better informed about weather, politics, and technology than I've ever been in my life. It's an incredible thing to be speaking to someone in your house and have them ask you something you don't know, and suddenly you're able to say, "I'll just look it up," without worrying about carting around 30 volumes of rapidly outdated encyclopedias.

It's a resource I think everyone should have. Unfortunately, the easier it is for everyone to use, the more the governement is making noise about internet regulation (all that Evil Porn... Frickin' Terrorists).