Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is WiMAX technology coming to Longmont?

A full-page advertisement in today's Times-Call from a Denver-based company called Open Range suggests that Longmont is getting a WiMAX provider soon. WiMAX is a wireless technology suitable for carrying voice, internet, and video. The big difference between WiMAX and the WiFi network currently deployed in Longmont (and in Ziggi's and maybe in your house) is that WiMAX has a reach of several miles vs. just tens of meters or so for Wifi. Instead of blanketing the city with rabbit ears for Wifi, one large WiMAX transmitter can be installed high over the city (like on top of the sugar factory silo east of town) that can serve thousands of residential customers. And direct line-of-sight between the consumer and transmitter is not needed with WiMAX.

One downside with WiMAX technology is that it is not currently widely integrated with mobile devices like laptops and smart phones, which means that you'd need to continue using Wifi for this type of gear. Products are supposedly starting to trickle out in this space, however.

I seem to remember that Ridgeview (owner of Longmont's municipal Wifi network) also had plans to enter the WiMAX market, and we also have Skybeam serving us today. Competition with these wireless offerings will be good for internet and voice consumers in Longmont!

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