Current Cover (3068 bytes)
Current Cover

Recent issues

HOME | Windows Mobile | Palm OS | Rugged PDAs | Rugged PCs | Pen Computers | Tablet PCs | Case Studies | Industry leaders

« WOW-mousepen optical pointing device | Main | Two New Inputting Solutions for UMPC and Tablet PC »

September 10, 2006

Wi-Max Wireless Connectivity

A few years ago I remember reading about the entire city of Jacksonville, Florida being lit up with Wi-Max. It was the first time I had heard about this new technology, and it made me envious, but not envious enough to move to hurricane alley. I thought I would just wait for it to come to me thinking that the Pope would convert to Islam first. But, lo and behold, Wi-Max arrived in my little town of Moscow, Idaho a few months ago, and I was ecstatic.

In the August/September issue of Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine, I argued that Moscow, Idaho is the most enlightened city in the world with more hotspots per capita than any place on the planet. In addition to Wi-Fi hotspots, we now have Wi-Max and fiber optics. To read the article, go to:

Wi-Max, a service of Clearwire, is a relatively new technology only available in 26 communities in the United States at this time. Intel has invested heavily in this technology and in Clearwire, which uses a high-speed wireless radio transmission signal that operates on a licensed 2.5 GHz frequency. In contrast, Wi-Fi operates on an unlicensed frequency of 2.4 GHz, which is vulnerable to scanning and packet interception. But, in reality, both can be intercepted.

Theoretically, Wi-Max has the potential of reaching a 30 mile radius from a given distribution point, so that large areas can be lit up without a myriad of localized hotspots. Wi-Max operates in the T1 speed range. Rates start at $19.95 per month, plus a $5 monthly modem rental fee. To see if there is coverage in your area and to explore the various pricing plans, go to

clearwire1.jpg When you sign up for a Wi-Max account, they hand you a little black box, which is actually a modem. You take it out of the box, plug it in, attach an Ethernet cable to your computer, and you are online. If you wish, you can plug it into a router, and your environment is instantly converted to a wireless network. You can take the Wi-Max modem with you and use it anywhere the service is available. I have had great fun with mine lighting up meeting halls, restaurants, and public places where access would not otherwise be available. Of course, you can take it with you when you travel to other Wi-Max locations around the world.

On this summer’s sojourn, one of the tools I packed to enhance my productivity was a Clearwire modem, about the size of a romance novel. Clearwire, in its infancy, is far from ubiquitous, but it is a treat to encounter on the road.

I had occasion to use it in Boise, a couple of places in Texas, several places in California, and a couple of places in Oregon and Washington. See the distribution map at Talk about plug and play, you just plug it into a wall outlet, connect your computer, and you are online; it is that simple.

I always carry a small WiFlyer access point with me to create an instant wireless network. One morning while having breakfast in Redding, CA, I turned the breakfast room at the hotel into a hotspot. Guests were running to grab their laptops to get online. I was a hero. The same thing happened in Roseburg, Oregon.

Eventually, when the market gets bigger, there will be Wi-Max cards just as there are Wi-Fi cards, and you won’t need to carry the modem to get connected. Ultimately, I imagine laptops, desktops, and handheld devices will have Wi-Max receivers built-in, just as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios are standard today.

Next week I will be conducting a workshop for lawyers called “How to be eLegal, eLiterate, and eMobile. You can be certain that I will be toting my Wi-Max box, as I plan to light up the room for an online presentation.

I have to cut this short because it is Saturday and I never miss Farmer’s Market in our town square. There are two new restaurants on either side of the square. I am going to go light up those restaurants and the entire plaza with Mi-Max to show the new restaurant owners how easy it is to become a hotspot to attract more business.

Posted by tim at September 10, 2006 05:53 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?