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Comparison Between WiFi and WiMax

WiFi vs. WiMax

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Wi-Fi vs Wi-Max
  4. Conclusions
  5. References


Wi-Fi and Wi-Max technologies are currently using widely in broadband internet services and in wireless communication protocols. Wi-Fi is used only in Local Area Networks (LAN) whereas Wi-Max is used in Wide Area Networks (WAN).  Wi-Max data transfer rate is much more than that of Wi-Fi data transfer rate. Wi-Fi technology is a well-developed technology at present whereas Wi-Max is still in its initial periods of development. Wi-Max can be used effectively in 3G and 4G communication protocols because of its superior speed compared to Wi-Fi. This paper compares Wi-Fi with Wi-Max.


Wi-Fi is an electronic mechanism to exchange data wirelessly between electronic devices such as a computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones etc. A Wi-Fi enabled device can connect electronic devices with Wi-Fi facilities to interact over a wireless network. Indoor Wi-Fi capabilities are comparatively lesser than that of outdoor Wi-Fi capabilities. Wi-Fi is usually only used for short distance communication. On the other hand, Wi-MAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless communication technology used to deliver high speed internet services to long distances. Unlike Wi-Fi, Wi-Max is useful for distant communications. Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Max technologies are developed mainly for broadband communication or internet communication.

Comparison Between WiFi and WiMax

Wi-Fi vs. Wi-Max

Even though the bases or the fundamental technologies of both Wi-Fi and Wi-Max are almost the same, both are working on different perspectives; Wi-Fi- for small distance communication and Wi-Max for distant communication. Generally, Wi-Fi is used in the 2G and 3G communication protocols whereas Wi-Max can be used for 2G, 3G or 4G.  Wi-Max is capable of raising internet data transfer speed up to 1 Giga Bits per second. It should be noted that Wi-Fi data transfer rate is comparatively lesser than that of Wi-Max.

The major difference between Wi-Fi and Wi-max can be better understood with the help of the comparison between a cordless phone and a mobile phone. A cordless phone can be operated only within a few meters away from the base unit. In other words, cordless phone do not have the ability to receive data from the base unit if it is kept at a longer distance. On the other hand, a mobile phone can be used anywhere in the world where network coverage exists. Same way, Wi-Fi can be used only within a particular distance from the base unit whereas Wi-Max does not have such restrictions with respect to distance from the base unit. Using Wi-Max, a person can access internet even while he is travelling, just like he uses his mobile phones while travelling.  Because of higher speed, Wi Max technology can be used in wide area networks (WAN) whereas lack of speed makes Wi-Fi useful only in local area networks (LAN). “While Wi-Fi supports transmission ranges up to few hundred meters, Wi-Max systems could support users at ranges up to 30 miles”(Finneran, 2004, p.3).

“WiMax uses technology focused on linking the system and base station for end users. Specific algorithms for unique links are scheduled” (Wimax Vs WiFi – Comparison between WiFi and Wimax, n.d)

Comparison Between WiFi and WiMax

(Meyer, 2006)

From the above figure it is evident that as in the case of mobile phone towers, Wi-max also use some towers to send and receive data. WI –Max towers are installed at different convenient locations as in the case of mobile phone towers. These Wi-max towers will be connected to local area networks in home and also to the internet service provider (ISP) networks as shown in the above diagram.  On the other hand, Wi-Fi networks do not require such complex architecture in its technology. The antennas in the modem can help Wi-Fi to communicate between the ISP and different users. “WiMax is able to handle nearly all the same protocols.” (Meyer, 2006).

At present people, with broadband connection at their home or office cannot use it while they are staying few meters away from their home of office because of the inability of Wi-Fi to transfer data beyond certain limits. Such people are currently using separate internet services while they are away from their home or office broadband connection. Wi-max provides an answer to such problems. As in the case of mobile phones, Wi-Max users can make use of the services of the same ISP if they are under the coverage of Wi-Max towers. GSM and CDMA like mobile phone technologies may give way for Mobile Wi-Max technologies in near future itself with the introduction of Wi-Max.

Wi-Max is operating in a licensed environment whereas Wi-Fi is operating in an unlicensed environment. In other words, Wi-Max users need to purchase licenses whereas Wi-Fi users do not have the liability to purchase any license for their communication requirements.  “The technological conviction that the question of everyone yelling at once would be disastrous in a wider environment is why WiFi access points do not function as a wide area as WiMAX access points were designed.”(Evslin, 2008). In other words, non-licensing requirements encourage different Wi-Fi users to communicate without any regulations whereas licensing requirements will encourage Wi-Max users to communicate only in a controlled manner.

For commercial deployment, frequency allocation is going to be a problem in the case of Wi-Max technology. As in the case of radio television communication, each and every service provider of Wi-max should be operating only in a specific frequency in order to avoid the interference of data transmitted by different ISP’s. In the case of Wi-Fi such inconveniences are -not there since Wi-Fi operates only in a limited area.


Wireless communication technologies are on the verge of huge development at present. The introduction of Wi-Max technology may help internet users to solve many of the problems created by Wi-Fi technologies in wireless communications. Wi-Fi is capable of handling data transfer only at a smaller speed and therefore it is used mainly in home networks or Local Area Networks. On the other hand, Wi-Max can handle data with a superior speed and it can be used for distant wireless communication.

  • Evslin, T. (2008). WiMAX vs. WiFi. Retrieved from https://www.circleid.com/posts/92208_wimax_vs_wifi/
  • Finneran, M.F. (2004). WinMax versus Wi-Fi. Retrieved from https://media.techtarget.com/searchMobileComputing/downloads/Finneran.pdf
  • Meyer E (2006). WiMax vs WiFi, Retrieved from https://www.techwarelabs.com/articles/other/wimax_wifi/
  • Wimax Vs WiFi – Comparison between WiFi and Wimax, (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.wifinotes.com/wimax/wimax-vs-wifi.html

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