Earlier wireless technologies (LMDS, MMDS for example) were unsuccessful in the mass market as they could not deliver services in non-line-of-sight scenarios. This limited the number of subscribers they could reach and, given the high cost of base stations and CPE, those business plans failed. WiMAX functions best in line of sight situations and, unlike those earlier technologies, offers acceptable range and throughput to subscribers who are not line of sight to the base station.
Buildings between the base station and the subscriber diminish the range and throughput, but in an urban environment, the signal will still be strong enough to deliver adequate service. Given WiMAX's ability to deliver services non-line-of-sight, the WiMAX service provider can reach many customers in high-rise office buildings to achieve a low cost per subscriber because so many subscribers can be reached from one base station.