WiMAX is an IP based, wireless broadband access technology that provides performance similar to 802.11/Wi-Fi networks with the coverage and QOS (quality of service) of cellular networks. WiMAX is also an acronym meaning "Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX).
WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE 802.16, that is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks". WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access (BWA) up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 - 10 miles (5 - 15 km) for mobile stations. In contrast, the WiFi/802.11 wireless local area network standard is limited in most cases to only 100 - 300 feet (30 - 100m).
With WiMAX, WiFi-like data rates are easily supported, but the issue of interference is lessened. WiMAX operates on both licensed and non-licensed frequencies, providing a regulated environment and viable economic model for wireless carriers.
At its heart, however, WiMAX is a standards initiative. Its purpose is to ensure that the broadband wireless radios manufactured for customer use interoperate from vendor to vendor. The primary advantages of the WiMAX standard are to enable the adoption of advanced radio features in a uniform fashion and reduce costs for all of the radios made by companies, who are part of the WiMAX Forum™ - a standards body formed to ensure interoperability via testing. The more recent Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard is a similar term describing a parallel technology to WiMAX that is being developed by vendors and carriers as a counterpoint to WiMAX.