Lets first look at FDM:
In FDM system, signals from multiple transmitters are transmitted simultaneously (at the same time slot) over multiple frequencies. Each frequency range (sub-carrier) is modulated separately by different data stream and a spacing (guard band) is placed between sub-carriers to avoid signal overlap.
In an OFDM system, a very high rate data stream is divided into multiple parallel low rate data streams. Each smaller data stream is then mapped to individual data sub-carrier and modulated using some sorts of PSK (Phase Shift Keying) or QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation). i.e. BPSK, QPSK, 16-QAM, 64-QAM.
OFDM needs less bandwidth than FDM to carry the same amount of information which translates to higher spectral efficiency. Besides a high spectral efficiency, an OFDM system such as WiMAX is more resilient in NLOS environment. It can efficiently overcome interference and frequency-selective fading caused by multipath because equalizing is done on a subset of sub-carriers instead of a single broader carrier. The effect of ISI (Inter Symbol Interference) is suppressed by virtue of a longer symbol period of the parallel OFDM sub-carriers than a single carrier system and the use of a cyclic prefix (CP).
On the other hand, OFDMA 128/512/1024/2048 FFT Modes have been proposed for IEEE 802.16e (mobile service). OFDMA 1024 FFT matches that of Korea’s WiBRO. OFDM 256 also is supported for compatibility with IEEE 802.16d (fixed, 2004).