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Advances in technology have led to the development of Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX). This technology is among the most sought after wireless technology. As a result, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), which is responsible for setting standards for networking such as WI-FI (802.11) and Ethernet (802.3), has published standards defining WiMAX. WiMAX is developed on the basis of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology.
This is a significantly effective method of the data transfer, where carriers of 5MHz width are used; meanwhile, below the width of 5MHz, the existing 3G network systems have a similar performance to OFDM networks. Therefore, WiMAX is a wireless technology that facilitates the throughput of broadband connections in longer distances. As a result, WiMAX can be used on various applications such as high speed connectivity, hotspots or last mile broadband connections. It also provides the wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) connectivity, where the average coverage area is between five and ten kilometers (Borcoci, 2008).
Consequently, the WiMAX technology, which is created on the IEEE 802.16-2004 Air Interface Standard platform, proves to be a rapidly growing technology, which will impact on the fixed broadband MAN networks. Certification labs have been established in Malaga, Spain, Europe, Africa, Asia and America; furthermore, in some countries, WiMAX is fully operational. WiMAX has proven to be efficient in terms of costs and resources as compared to cable or DSL services. Meanwhile, IEEE ratified an amendment to the 802.16 standard, which aimed at adding attributes and features essential to enabling mobility (Ahmdi, 2011).
Mobile WiMAX enables the convergence of fixed and mobile broadband networks through the access technology such as the wide area broadband radio solutions and flexible network infrastructure. Therefore, the Adoption of Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiple Access (OFDMA) aims at improving “multi-path performance in non-line-of-sight environments” (Nuaymi, 2007). The Mobile Technical Group inherent in the WiMAX forum has developed system profiles on mobile WiMAX in an effort to define the optional and mandatory specifications of the IEEE standards. These are critical to building an air interface that is compliant to mobile WiMAX, which is certifiable through the WiMAX forum.
Mobile WiMAX system profiles enable the configuration of mobile systems on the basis of “common base features set that are fully interoperable” (Chen & De Marca, 2008). Consequently, a number of factors inherent in the base station profiles are indicated as optional in order to enable more flexibility, when it comes to deployment. This is on the basis of defined scenarios that may necessitate varied configurations that may be coverage or capacity optimized.
Differences between WiMAX and Other Wireless Networks
In contrast to Wireless Area Networks (WLAN), WiMAX integrates a grant request mechanism through a media access control layer (MAC) in authorizing the data exchange (Borcoci, 2008). This feature enables an improvement in the use of radio resources, when managing individual user’s traffic independently and using smart antennas. This eases the support of voice and real-time applications. One of the constraints of deploying WLAN was the inadequate security aspect observed on the initial releases. Meanwhile, WiMAX intends to implement a whole range of security protocols in ensuring that the exchange of data is fully secured.
This includes the exchange of certification between terminals to ensure that unwanted or intruding devices do not possess the allowed access to the network. The authentication of users is made using Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP), while data is encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standards (AES). These protocols are more formidable in contrast to the Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which was used by Wireless Local Area Networks (Borcoci, 2008).Want an expert to write a paper for you Talk to an operator now
While the WiMAX functions on a similar basis as WI-FI through sending data from one terminal to another using radio signals, a WiMAX equipped computer sends or receives data from a WiMAX transmission base using the encrypted data to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to the data. Under optimal circumstances, the fastest transmission of data via WI-FI can transmit a maximum of fifty four megabits per second, while WiMAX can transmit up to seventy megabits per second. However, although WiMAX has a higher transmission rate and speed, the most significant difference is the distance covered in transmission radius (Ahmdi, 2011).
WiMAX covers a larger distance in contrast to WI-FI, which has a range of approximately thirty meters, while WiMAX has a wireless access in a radius of fifty kilometers. The increase in the range is the result of the transmitters’ power and frequencies in use. However, factors such as weather, terrain and infrastructure, will influence the distance covered as a result of various circumstances (Nuaymi, 2007). While WiMAX and WI-FI appear to compete with each other, that is not the case as the two networks are complementary. WiMAX is quantified in kilometers covered, while WI-FI is quantified in meters covered (“What is WiMAX?,” 2012).
Impacts of WiMAX on Education
Since WiMAX is superior to WI-FI in terms of range, the throughput and network security that it has contribute to a higher quality of service. Therefore, WiMAX is a critical information technology tool that can have a significant impact on the deployment of education to students. The essentials in the deployment of education to a student are a personal computer or laptop and a broadband connection. There are various initiatives exist around the world aiming at providing information technology to students such as one laptop per child and one to one computing (Ohrtman, 2007). For instance, in the United States, a minimum percentage of funds received in annual budgetary allocations per child is sufficient to equip students with WiMAX enabled computers. This would ensure that a student can access the educative and research information through the school’s intranet at home. Therefore, through the fiscal and budgetary planning, school districts are capable of deploying a WiMAX network linking school intranet networks to students’ computers. This gives them access to study materials, instructional software and assignments in the comfort of their homes.
The demand for WiMAX is on the increase; therefore, the creation of infrastructure for the WiMAX delivery to every school is not unusually high. Therefore, schools should adopt this innovative information communication technology ahead of the public sectors’ uptake of one to one computing, which will increase the cost of WiMAX significantly. In light of this, information technology companies (vendors) and school administrators in conjunction with district governments should evaluate the ease, in which WiMAX is accessible, affordable and applicable (Jawadekar, 2009).
In most schools, education policies on technology aim at bringing technology into the classroom. Therefore, when students are outside their classroom, they are not impacted through the school’s information technology. However, the implementation of a policy requiring the school to implement a WiMAX connectivity policy contributes towards the education technology shifting its focus from the classroom to individual students. In order to avoid the ambiguity in the intention of establishing WiMAX networks in schools, a distinction must be made between the school’s intranet and internet. While access to the internet brings a myriad of information to a student, which can be either harmful or educative, the school’s intranet gives a student the access to educative materials, coursework, tutorial software and platforms. The school’s intranet does not involve giving students the access to the internet, except for the restricted educative sites only. This ensures that students are not accessible to online predators or destructive material on the internet such as pornography (Ohrtman, 2007).
The cost effectiveness of WiMAX makes it more attractive than other networks to subscribers. The low installation and subscription costs make it possible for school districts to create their own private networks. The federal communication commission has reported that over 90% of the United States has the broadband network coverage; however, a significant number of areas do not have the internet accessibility in students’ homes (Ohrtman, 2007). Therefore, a disparity in the education delivery is observed, where students, who do not have an access to the internet, are behind those with the internet access in their homes. Furthermore, students without the internet access in their homes are unable to complete their assignments in time compelling them to spend more time in the school compound in order to finish their assignments in time. In light of this, it is the district’s duty to facilitate the network access to all students within their district’s boundaries. This ensures that students have the access to school work; therefore, they focus on improving their academic competitiveness.
The WiMAX network is critical in enabling instructional applications. While those advocating for a one to one networking may question the applicability of the WiMAX network in schools, it is critical to appreciate intricacies of the education delivery through school based applications and platforms, which can only be accessible through the school’s intranet (Jawadekar, 2009). Consequently, the argument might be presented on the similarity in the utility of WiMAX and one to one computing; the difference emerges in the qualitative aspect of the respective networks applications available in the school’s intranet.
Literacy levels can be potentially increased, where a WiMAX enabled computer equipped with the interactive instructional software is issued to a student. For instance, an English learner can have his or her vocabulary enhanced through the use of interactive sight-sound relationships availed through the application software in the computer. Additionally, a student intending to sit for the American College tests may improve their efficiency in exam taking skills and reading through interactive practice tests tailored through the use of the interactive literacy instructional software (Ohrtman, 2007).
Consequently, when a student is unable to attend classes in school as a result of a personal emergency or other reason, he or she can recover classes through a credit recovery program. Furthermore, WiMAX enabled computers integrate various software intended to enhance a student’s numeracy level. These are tailored as mathematical games that create an atmosphere, where students practice and develop their affinity for numbers. These can entail three dimensional graphical representations that aim at helping a student to understand and appreciate concepts such as those applicable in physics, trigonometry or chemistry (Ohrtman, 2007).
Moreover, students prefer using the interactive interfaces on computers in contrast to the conventional stationary. Therefore, students are more inclined to use computers in terms of writing and sharing documents with their peers or submitting assignments via typed documents. These are easily transmitted through the WiMAX network to the intended recipients and can be either in the school vicinity or their homes. Therefore, WiMAX brings a virtual interactive educational environment, where students can interact with one another or their teachers, irrespective of their physical location within or without schools.
High speeds of the data transmission using WiMAX networks enable a low latency of data and its efficient multiplexing. These are critical aspects of WiMAX, which enable functional broadband services such as data, VoIP and video streaming. This performance will facilitate a qualitative transparency between services, involving broadband wires and mobile WiMAX. This is a critical requirement for the implementation of mobile internet applications for WiMAX.
Meanwhile, WiMAX is significantly a cost effective method of distributing the school intranet content and interactive learning platforms to students. This is realizable within the school compound or any other place at any given time. This will ensure that education is student oriented and not institution oriented. Therefore, market drivers for the implementation of WiMAX, such as one to one computing initiatives, instruction outside the classroom, funding and institutional mandates, should be encouraged to facilitate an expedient and efficient transition of the learning environment from a conventional approach to a technology conscious one.