WiMax’s Role in Obama Visit

White House officials have said President Obama is coming to Marquette to hold the area up as an example of what wireless internet technology can do for rural areas.

NMU’s WiMax network is a big part of that.

So what is it about WiMax that makes it special?

WiMax signals can cover up to 3 miles, reaching more students and staff than WiFi and older wireless technology.

NMU’s old network only covered about 300 feet from each tower.

But there are plenty of areas the school knows it must still reach, like Marquette Township.

NMU Director of Broadcast & Audio-Visual Services Eric Smith says they’re looking at ways to reach areas the existing WiMax antennae don’t reach.

But he says those unreached spots are just a part of rolling out any kind of new technology.

When NMU launched WiMax in August 2009, the school had one of just 59 WiMax licenses worldwide.

And what about letting President Obama see what WiMax can do?

Smith hopes to be able to do that in a demonstration while the Chief Executive is here.

After starting with just the city of Marquette at first, WiMax service has expanded to Negaunee, Ishpeming, K.I. Sawyer, Gwinn and part of Chocolay Township.

The school is also doing WiMax testing in Big Bay.