WiMax, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a new product developing in Chile that promises to revolutionise Internet access. WiMax allows high speed transmission of data and multimedia services (e.g., the Internet and videos) from laptops, cell phones and other portable devices from distances greater than was possible with previous technologies.
According to some preliminary tests, WiMax equipment can reach up to 40 km in open spaces. The distance covered depends on the geography, type of construction, and the system frequency of the particular zone. WiMax will be available in highly populated cities and will also serve as an alternative to broadband more remote areas. With WiMax there is no need to see the network in order to communicate as it is a system that functions without a sight line. For this reason, the product is ideal for countries with a mountainous terrain like Chile. The WiMax signal is able to go through buildings without need of a radio base station unlike its WiFi predecessor.
A main advantage of WiMax as compared to other similar technologies is that it is reasonably priced. WiMax is more efficient in its use of spectrum, which in turn results in higher broadband at a lower cost. Accordingly, the technology is a very attractive alternative for those operators that do not have a great amount of spectrum. WiMax also promises lower installation costs and the ability to offer higher coverage without need of cables and other external devices.
The first licenses to develop WiMax technology in Chile were distributed by the Undersecretary of Telecommunications by auction. These licenses were awarded to those companies with the lowest bid: Entel , Telmex, Telefónica del Sur and VTR (Liberty Media subsidiary).
At the close of 2006, Entel released the first regional wireless network of WiMax technology in Santiago. Entel subsequently launched its WiMax services in 14 other Chilean cities.
Telmex also launched its own WiMax based wireless network at the start of 2007. Telemex released its services to the following cities: Santiago, Concepción, Talcahuano, Curicó, Iquique, La Serena, Coquimbo, Linares, Ovalle, Rancagua, Talca, Temuco, Valdivia, Valparaíso y Viña del Mar, Calama, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Requinoa and Punta Arenas. Telmex expects to cover 98% of the Chilean population by the end of this year.
VTR expects to implement its WiMax system by the end of 2007.
It is expected that with the three new WiMax networks, the connectivity of Chilean subscribers will be significantly improved, thereby reducing the "digital gap" that currently affects the country.
For more information visit : www.edicionesespeciales.elmercurio.com
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