Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, better known as WiMAX (IEEE 802.16) is a standards-based technology that delivers "last-mile" wireless broadband access - or wireless connectivity to rural locations, according to the WiMAX Forum.

WiMAX is an alternative to wired broadband, such as DSL and cable modem, and according to the forum, "provides fixed, nomadic, portable and, soon, mobile wireless broadband connectivity without the need for direct line-of-sight with a base station."

Compared to the more prevalent Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11), whose coverage maxes out around 300 feet, WiMAX will, in theory, transmit a high-speed signal for 30 miles in every direction from a fixed station. Mobile stations will transmit three miles to 10 miles out.

Put simply, Wi-Fi is a standard for local area networks, while WiMAX is a standard for metropolitan area networks.
Jessica Jones  |  Associate Editor