The IEEE has approved the 802.16e specification as the standard to be used for metropolitan area networks. Now remote monitoring vendors looking for wireless technologies can add WiMAX to the rest of the wide area network alphabet soup (GPRS, EDGE, CDMA, W-CDMA/UMTS, CDMA2000, EV/DO - and I think I left of one or two QualComm technologies).

The technology will be known as Wi-MAN, for Wireless Metropolitan
Area Network, or WiMAX, for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave
Access. It extends the 802.16 standard previously approved for such
networks by specifying a system for combined fixed and mobile broadband
wireless access in licensed bands under 6 GHz.

The technology works with existing Wi-Fi networks, enabling
users to move between Wi-Fi and WiMAX connections.
Antennas on each
building within a WiMAX network direct signals sent from outside a
building to the WiMAX base stations and those sent from inside a
facility to Wi-Fi access points.

Interoperability is a plus, and something that wireless carriers using GPRS/EDGE/UTMS or CDMA/CDMA2000 1x/CDMA2000 1x EV-DO) can't offer. Cities looking to adopt WiMAX, like Philadelphia and Portland, OR, will make interesting pilot sites for remote monitoring applications.

UPDATE: UK firm Cambridge Consultants (they helped Philips develop their latest DECT based WMTS telemetry radios) announces support for 802.16e. They've been engaged by chip maker picoChip to create reference designs for an 802.16e "software-defined" radio using picoChip's chip. Software-defined radios are all the rage these days.

Commissioned by picoChip, the designs will
provide the air interfaces required for both base station and mobile
station equipment in WiMAX 802.16e wireless networks, but in forms
which are inherently software-upgradeable. This flexibility will allow
the electronics OEM community to develop and deploy while the WiMAX
specification is maturing - without fear of incompatibility or

software-defined nature of the designs will allow OEMs to accommodate
substantial changes to 802.16e equipment in the field, by means of a
software patch. This substantially reduces the risk associated with
upgrades to the specification - which are likely to be introduced as
field experience with mobile WiMAX is gained. It also means that
manufacturers can extend system functionality, for example to include
MIMO or smart antenna technology.

[Hat tip: Mobile Health Data]