What the heck is ‘VoWiMAX’?

Feb. 1, 2007
A word to the wise. Do not get involved in discussions of “bundled” services (an oxymoron at best) and do not discuss phone services with a cable television provider or satellite TV with a telephone company (and vice versa).

In the beginning, there was only POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) provided by a somewhat motherly organization known colloquially as “Ma Bell” or “the phone company.” And the Writer daily did dial merrily around and away and, in the due course of time, was connected with his usually reliable sources and, in so doing he did gather news and information for his most loyal and patient readers. And the Writer so wrote and met his frequent deadlines with a tip of the ink-stained editorial hat to Ma Bell. And the telephone rangeth loud and clear and often. And the Writer saw the world was good. And it was good.

But when the thunder of oversized teenage feet could no longer be heard clattering down the halls of the Writer’s suburban dwelling, he and his long-suffering spouse “downsized” to more urban and, possibly, more efficient quarters. And so it came to pass that the installation of a new telephone service was to be the order of the day. “Call the phone company, dear, and let’s get connected.”

As the comedian Jack Benny would no doubt have said, “Well . . . ”

“Who are you gonna call, dear?” Verizon, ComCast, Vonage, T-Mobile, or Boingo, or whatever? Notice that none of these outfits have the word “telephone” or the word “service” in their names. Here beginneth the abominable descent into the Hades of so-called “voice mail” as the Writer and his faithful spouse frantically dialed away the (business only) hours to dig up a basic phone service (maybe “exhume” would be a more appropriate word).

After being threatened with the total recording of every last word and gasp we could have produced, the by-now desperate caller encounters myriad mechanical mouthpieces who clearly do not understand the Queen’s English. “What part of NO do you not understand?” Finally one is delivered into the arms of a “customer service associate,” whatever that means. I always thought that sales rep was an acceptable term. But do not expect this CSA person to speak sentences of even passable English.

At this point, a conversation ensued that could well have been between R2-D2 and Chewbacca of “Star Wars” fame. I leave you to guess who filled the part of the Wookie.

Now, a word to the wise. Do not get involved in discussions of “bundled” services (an oxymoron at best) and do not discuss phone services with a cable television provider or satellite TV with a telephone company (and vice versa). Tell the CSA to stick strictly to his or her knitting. A further warning, do not get involved in discussions of home networking with any telephone sales person. Double that warning if you do not already understand the difference between a LAN and a WLAN.

What does all this have to do with the abbreviation “VoWiMAX,” you may well ask. Patience, mon vieux. We’ll get there, soon. In the course of negotiating with many CSAs you will encounter as you attempt to get POTS, you will inevitably come across the acronym “VoIP.” This little beauty stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” a way of sending phone calls via the Internet instead of using the PSTN. You do know what the PSTN is, don’t you?

You could Google it or look it up in Wikipedia (and you will OD on acronyms in so doing).

Now, you have heard of Wi-Fi, I assume? Wi-Fi, which may or may not mean “wireless fidelity,” is the technology underlying WLANs. You knew that, of course. And (roll of drums, please!), WiMAX is the broadband extension of Wi-Fi. Officially WiMAX is defined as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. Got that? And you thought we merely wanted POTS?

According to technology pundits, WiMAX will make mincemeat of both DSL and cable access for broadband Internet. Why? Because VoWiMAX will be the killer app for this upcoming technology. Why? Because phone calls using a WiMAX network will be largely free of government regulation. Aha! “Gotcha!”

As for the Writer, he just wants POTS now rather than maybe a killer app of tomorrow. And enough already with the acronyms.

Where are you, Ma Bell, when we really need you?

About the Author

Jeffrey Bairstow | Contributing Editor

Jeffrey Bairstow is a Contributing Editor for Laser Focus World; he previously served as Group Editorial Director.

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