Wi-MAX refers to the standard interoperable implementations of IEEE 802.16, an air interface standard. It isn't designed to replace Wi-Fi (which is the implementation of the IEEE 802.11) just yet, and in fact it can't be accessed directly by a laptop PC on the go. Some cable and telephone companies see a potential for Wi-MAX in use to connect remote communities, where the cost to update underground lines or wires would be prohibitively expensive. Wi-MAX can be used to deliver direct Internet access to a wireless LAN for businesses in these communities. In addition, the technology is seen as having the potential to add more wireless hotspots in urban areas for true city-wide broadband almost anywhere.
"Wi-MAX can deliver broadband all the time, almost anywhere for voice, video and data," says Carlton O'Neal, vice president of marketing for Alvarion, a telecom solution provider. He compares the technology to mobile phones, and how landlines where everywhere, adding, "Today the cellular phone is the personal communicator. That is what Wi-MAX can do for computer users."