The FCC has cleared the way for Intel to deploy experimental Wimax technology to bring internet connectivity to parts of the Gulf Coast, Business Week reports. Intel shipped equipment Thursday to decommissioned Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.
A group of wireless business called Part15.org has been working with FEMA and the FCC to set up WiFi networks in shelters and neighborhoods, but those are useless without a connection to the Internet. That's where Wimax comes in.
"They were missing a very vital -- and some would say expensive -- piece of the jigsaw, and that's the ability to put up a wireless solution to actually get the signal in and out of a fairly substantial Air Force base," [an Intel spokeman] said.
The WiMax equipment will be able to handle carry signals about 15 miles to what's known as a Point of Presence on the Internet. The bandwidth both upstream and downstream is expected to be about 45 megabits per second -- 30 times the speed of a standard 1.5 megabit per second DSL connection.
This would all seem like a no-brainer except for the fact that Wimax uses the same 3.5 gHz band that is reserved for military use. The FCC granted an emergency use of the spectrum for disaster recovery.
A group of wireless internet providers along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency, have decided to jointly work and install WiMax technology at an evacuation shelter and other locations recently devastated by Katrina hurricane. The joint exercise is an effort to expeditiously restore the communication network in the affected area.
The high-speed wireless technology WiMax is presently being tested at several places in the world, it is believed to immediately bring internet services to even such remote areas which never had any telecom infrastructure. The network is slated to be extensively used for Internet telephony services and information data exchange. The maker of Wimax chips, Intel Corp., transported required equipments on Thursday to San Antonio's decommissioned Kelly Air Force Base, the gear is expected to land today.
The WiMax equipment is believed to be capable of carrying internet signals about 15 miles to affected areas. Both the upstream and downstream bandwidth offered by WiMax has a huge edge over the standard 1.5 megabit per second connection. With a speed of about 45 megabits per second – it operates 30 times faster. Nigel Ballard, a manager with Intel’s state and local government unit on the effectiveness of this wireless technology, commented "They were missing a very vital -- and some would say expensive -- piece of the jigsaw, and that's the ability to put up a wireless solution to actually get the signal in and out of a fairly substantial Air Force base."
Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access or WiMax is being seen as a possible substitute to cable modem and Digital Subscriber Line services in the future. However, the problem lies in the use of spectrum since the technology requires a bigger slice of cake at the 3.5-gigahertz band. But for deploying it in disaster management in the Katrina hit areas, the FCC has presently removed all hurdles and on Thursday issued an emergency license for the spectrum use.