Wide-Area Wireless Access

Wide-Area Wireless Access

When you access the Internet through wireless LAN technology, you normally require to be within a few tens of meters of the access point. This is reasonable for home access, coffee shop access and more commonly, access within and around a building. But what if you are on the beach, on a bus, or in your car, and you need Internet access? For such wide-area access, roaming Internet users make use of the cellular phone infrastructure, accessing base stations that are up to tens of kilometers away.

Telecommunications companies have made huge investments in so-called third generation (3G) wireless, which provides packet-switched wide-area wireless lnternet access at speeds in excess of 1 Mbps. Today millions of users are using these networks to read and send email, surf the Web, and download music while on the run.

A schematic of a typical home network


As always, there is a potential "killer" technology waiting to depose these standards. WiMAX [Intel WiMAX 2009, WiMAX Forum 2009], also known as IEEE 802.16, is a long-distance cousin of the 802.11 WiFi protocol discussed earlier. WiMAX operates independently of the cellular network and promises speeds of 5 to 10 Mbps or higher over distances of tens of kilometers. Sprint-Nextel has committed billions of dollars towards deploying WiMAX in 2007 and beyond. We'll cover WiFi, WiMAX, and 3G in detail in "Wireless and Mobile Networks".


lan, cellular network, protocol

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