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WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a standard for wireless communications which covers a variety of transmission modes. Having a theoretical maximum of 70mbps symmetric bandwidth, deployments can be of a point-to-point link or more cellular in nature. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, WiMAX is described as "a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL" (WimaxForum)

Current Status

SOWN is not currently involved in a project to deploy WiMAX at the current time.

History of SOWN WiMAX Project

The SOWN WiMAX project is now in the final stages of planning (April 2009) and we are pleased to announce that the project is being backed by CISCO. We are also greatly appreciative to bluenowhere who we are also working with on this project.

Initially the project will see a 2 node (240 degree) deployment which will cover the majority of Southampton City center and the surrounding areas as far north as the airport including the University of Southampton itself.

The deployment will be a European leading (first in the UK) public sector trial of this exciting new technology. Establishing the peering with CISCO also means that the deployment will also be utilising the latest technological developments including advanced beam forming.

During the trial SOWN intends to establish the capabilities of using WiMAX within the academic community, providing services including both home broadband connectivity as well as pervasive coverage of key areas of the city. Included within this SOWN intends to investigate services which can be provided including high speed internet, streaming video/TV and low latency voice services.

Finally we hope to involve University academic research, allowing projects to utilise the network to enhance the quality of the already strong University research agenda.

During the period of the project SOWN will be running open days when will invite members of the community to come and experience the technology for themselves. Towards the end of the project we also intend to run a WiMAX workshop allowing people to be introduced to the technology and hear talks from each of the partners on their role, both now and in the future.


The trial is aimed at providing:

  • Broadband replacement for Students and Staff as part our outreach projects.
  • A substantial test-bed for pervasive wireless research.
  • Connectivity for projects conducted off-site.
  • Access to the equipment for academic purposes – including WiMAX mobility.

The network connection provided will be to the campus network, through the department.

This represents a substantial opportunity to extend the departments wireless provision.

WiMAX includes support for `Quality of Service', meaning connections can be guaranteed a specific level of service, both in throughput and network-latency.

The trial will consist of two MIMO-Antenna-Array Panels installed on campus, each connected to a CISCO WiMAX base-station and a CISCO `ASN Gateway'. The equipment operates in the 3.5Ghz band, using `BlueNoWhere's `Technical and Development' license.

We will have access to a number of `Ripwave modems', which provide and Ethernet connection to a local network, back-hauled over the WiMAX network. Later in the trial there will be `USB dongles' providing a connection to a single machine.

Hardware with varying degrees of support is listed here