The IEEE 802.16 standard defines the air interface specifications for a Wireless Metropolian Area Network (MAN). The standard is also known as WirelessMAN. The standard can be used as a wireless last-mile solution to deliver broadband access as alternative for ADSL or cable infrastructure. Use of the standard is especially very interesting in rural and remote areas where ADSL or cable access is infeasible due to economic or logistic constraints. Another possibilty is to use the standard as a wireless backbone for mobile base stations and WiFi hot-spots. This is called backhauling.
The original 802.16 standard operates in the 10 - 66 GHz frequency band and requires line-of sight between the transmitting towers. The 802.16a extension to the standard makes the use of lower frequencies, in the range of 2 - 11 GHz possible and enables non line-of-sight connections.
The standard is revised in 2004. This revision 802.16-2004 optimizes the use of the standard as a wireless last-mile solution to deliver fixed and nomadic DSL services.
The latest extension, 802.16e, gives the possiblity to make handovers between 802.16 base stations. This makes it possible to connect mobile clients. These clients are able to roam within the service area of the network. IEEE 802.16e is also known as Mobile WiMAX.
IEEE 802.16 is also working on the specification of a new air interface to meet the requirements of IMT-Advanced under the name of IEEE 802.16m.