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Difference Between WLAN and WiMax

wlanWLAN vs WiMax
Wireless Local Area Network, also known as WLAN or Wi-Fi, is the alternative to cabled LAN. It provides users mobility to move from one location to another without thinking about the wires. It has grown in popularity along with the rise of laptop computers and low cost netbooks that made mobile computing within reach for most people. WiMax stands for Worldwide interoperabiliy for Microwave Access and it provides high speed internet access to areas the WLAN cannot reach.

WiMax is a new technology that is still not very popular but is gaining widespread attention due to the niche it serves. WiMax equipment provides services that are in between high speed, low range WLAN and low speed, high range 3G and 2G technologies.

WLAN can provide high speeds since its hardware is not meant to transmit or receive signals from far away and it does not have to deal with the substantial attenuation that comes with long distances. The 50km range of WiMax and its superior ability to pass through obstructions makes it ideal for certain applications as a last mile connectivity replacement to cables for DSL lines. The speed that can be achieved with WiMax isn’t constant though, it is conversely proportional to the distance between the base station and the subscriber.

The two technologies also differ in the type of Media Access Controller or MAC that they utilize. Wi-Fi uses one that is contention based. This means that all clients who use the same access point are competing for bandwidth with the closest user getting the highest priority. WiMax uses a MAC with a scheduling algorithm that ensures each client gets assigned a certain time span to communicate with the access point. The time span allocated to each client can be reduced or expanded depending on the needs of the client but it cannot be used by other clients as long as he remain connected.

Regardless of the improvements of WiMax to ensure that the bandwidth isn’t taken over by a single abusive user, it can still suffer from slowdowns due the number of connected users just like Wi-Fi. The only solution to this problem would be to add more radio cards to accommodate all users.

1. WLAN is meant for short range applications while WiMax is meant for long range applications.
2. WLAN can deliver much faster speeds compared to WiMax.
3. WiMax provides a much better method of bandwidth distribution compared to WLAN.
4. Both technologies are still susceptible to overloading.

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