WiMAX antennas, just like the antennas for car radio, cell phone, FM radio, or TV, are designed to optimize performance for a given application. The figure above illustrates the three main types of antennas used in WiMAX deployments. From top to bottom are an omni directional, sector and panel antenna each has a specific function.
Omni Directional Antenna
Omni directional antennas are used for point-to-multipoint configurations. The main drawback to an omni directional antenna is that its energy is greatly diffused in broadcasting 360 degrees. This limits its range and ultimately signal strength. Omni directional antennas are good for situations where there are a lot of subscribers located very close to the base station. An example of omni directional application is a WiFi hotspot where the range is less than 100 meters and subscribers are concentrated in a small area.
A sector antenna, by focusing the beam in a more focused area, offers greater range and throughput with less energy. Many operators will use sector antennas to cover a 360-degree service area rather than use an omni directional antenna due to the superior per-formance of sector antennas over an omni directional antenna.
Panel antennas are usually a flat panel of about one foot square. They can also be a configuration where potentially the WiMAX radio is contained in the square antenna enclosure. Such configurations are powered via the Ethernet cable that connects the ra-dio/antenna combination to the wider network. That power source is known as Power over Ethernet (PoE). This streamlines deployments as there is no need to house the radio in a separate, weatherproof enclosure if outdoors or in a wiring closet if indoors. This configuration can also be very handy for relays.