IST220 November 29, 2001
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Speed & Simplicity,
During the past decade there has been a dramatic change in the nature of mobile communications
"...anywhere, anytime voice, data and messaging services through telecommunication networks that are seamlessly and globally interconnected."technology and its impact on the general communications environment. Mobile communications plays a very important role within the corporate, financial, retail, academic, healthcare, manufacturing, and warehousing sectors in almost all industrialised parts of the world. Mobile communications is generally recognised as one of the most efficient ways to increase effectiveness, reduce operating costs and preserve energy. Because of mobile communications, we are able to avail ourselves of anywhere, anytime voice, data and messaging services through telecommunication networks that are seamlessly and globally interconnected. Even though there are many skeptics who critisize the innovative technologies in mobile communications, in this paper I will discuss many of the advantages of, and explore how we can benefit from wireless networks and communications in your specific industry.
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The first question I would like to address is "why wireless?" The widespread reliance on networking in business and the meteoric growth of the Internet and online services are strong testimonies to the benefits of shared data and shared resources. With wireless networks, users can access shared information without looking for a place to plug in, and network managers can set up or augment networks without installing or moving wires. Wireless networks offer mobility, installation speed and simplicity, flexibility, reduced cost-of-ownership, and scalability.
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The first advantage I would like to discuss and probably the biggest advantage of wireless networks is mobility. Wireless LAN systems can provide LAN users with access to real-time information anywhere in their organization. This mobility supports productivity and service opportunities not possible with wired networks.
"Examples of the practical uses for wireless network access are limited only by the imagination of the application designer."Untethered from conventional network connections, network users can move about almost without restriction and access LANs from nearly anywhere. Examples of the practical uses for wireless network access are limited only by the imagination of the application designer. Medical professionals can obtain not only patient records, but real-time vital signs and other reference data at the patients bedside without relying on reams of paper charts and physical paper handling. Factory floor workers can access part and process specifications without impractical or impossible wired network connections. Wireless connections with real-time sensing allows a remote engineer to diagnose and maintain the health and welfare of manufacturing equipment, even on an environmentally-hostile factory floor. Warehouse inventories can be carried out and verified quickly and effectively with wireless scanners connected to the main inventory database. Even wireless "smart" price tags, complete with liquid crystal display (LCD) readouts, allow merchants to virtually eliminate discrepancies between stock-point pricing and scanned prices at the checkout lane. The list of possibilities is almost endless. In addition, wireless technology enables mobile computers to be in constant contact with servers and each other. Industries that have employed this technology include healthcare, warehousing, and transportation. The figure below demonstrates how wireless ethernet LAN works in a peer-to-peer network environment.
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Speed and Simplicity
The next advantage of wireless networking I would like to discuss is the speed and simplicity of installation. Installing a wireless LAN system can be fast and easy and can eliminate the need to pull cable through walls and ceilings. Users need very little new information to take advantage of wireless LANs. Because the wireless nature of a wireless LAN is transparent to a user's NOS, applications work the same as they do on wired LANs. Wireless LAN products incorporate a variety of diagnostic tools to address issues associated with the wireless elements of the system; however, products are designed so that most users rarely need these tools. Network managers are freed from pulling cables for wireless LAN end users. Lack of cabling also makes moves, adds, and changes trivial operations on wireless LANs. Finally, the portable nature of wireless LANs lets network managers preconfigure and troubleshoot entire networks before installing them at remote locations. Once configured, wireless LANs can be moved from place to place with little or no modifications.
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A third advantage of wireless networking is flexibility. In a typical wireless LAN configuration, a transmitter/receiver (transceiver) device, called an access point, connects to the wired network from a fixed location using standard cabling. At a minimum, the access point receives, buffers, and transmits data between the wireless LAN and the wired network infrastructure. A single access point can support a small group of users and can function within a range of less than one hundred to several hundred feet. The access point (or the antenna attached to the access point) is usually mounted high but may be mounted essentially anywhere that is practical as long as the desired radio coverage is obtained.
"End users access the wireless LAN through wireless-LAN adapters, which are implemented as PC cards in notebook or palmtop computers, as cards in desktop computers, or integrated within hand-held computers."End users access the wireless LAN through wireless-LAN adapters, which are implemented as PC cards in notebook or palmtop computers, as cards in desktop computers, or integrated within hand-held computers. wireless LAN adapters provide an interface between the client network operating system (NOS) and the airwaves via an antenna. The nature of the wireless connection is transparent to the NOS. In adapting to today's ever-changing business environment, many organizations need to rearrange the space layout quite often. The traditional wired networks make rearrangement a dreaded task. Should wireless technology be employed, rearrangement of office layout will not be a problem any more. Imagination is the limiting parameter. One can visualize without too much difficulty a meeting in which employees use small computers and wireless links to share and discuss future design plans and products. This "ad hoc" network can be brought up and torn down in a very short time as needed, either around the conference table and/or around the world. Some car rental establishments already use wireless networks to help facilitate check-ins. Traders on Wall Street are able to use wireless terminals to make market trades. Even students of university campuses have been known to access lecture notes and other course materials while wandering about campus.
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Reduced Cost of Ownership
The fourth advantage I will discuss is the reduced cost-of-ownership. While the initial investment required for wireless LAN hardware can be higher than the cost of wired LAN hardware, overall installation expenses and life-cycle costs can be significantly lower. Long-term cost benefits are greatest in dynamic environments requiring frequent moves and changes. Sometimes it is more economical to use a wireless LAN. For instance, in old buildings, the cost of asbestos cleanup or removal outweighs the cost of installing a wireless LAN solution. In other situations, such as a factory floor, it may not be feasible to run a traditional wired LAN. Wireless LANs offer the connectivity and the convenience of wired LANs without the need for expensive wiring or rewiring. Because about 97% of U.S. office buildings are not equipped with fiber-optic lines, using fixed wireless to offer high-speed service to businesses is often faster and cheaper than tearing up the streets. Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard predicted that fixed wireless would bring more competition to the phone business, esp. in rural area. The top long-distance companies such as AT&T and MCI are investing heavily in fixed wireless to bypass the phone networks owned by their regional Bell rivals.
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Finally the last advantage I would like to discuss is the scalability of wireless networks. Wireless LAN systems can be configured in a variety of topologies to meet the needs of specific applications and installations. Configurations are easily changed and range from peer-to-peer networks suitable for a small number of users to full infrastructure networks of thousands of users that enable roaming over a broad area.
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Although skeptics of wireless data networking seem never to tire of pointing out its performance limitations when compared with wireline networks, innovation continues at all levels of product development to improve performance, thereby increasing user acceptance. Flexibility and mobility make wireless LANs both effective extensions and attractive alternatives to wired networks. Wireless LANs provide all the functionality of wired LANs, without the physical constraints of the wire itself. Wireless LAN configurations range from simple peer-to-peer topologies to complex networks offering distributed data connectivity and roaming. Besides offering end-user mobility within a networked environment, wireless LANs enable portable networks, allowing LANs to move with the knowledge workers that use them.
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1) Daniel L. Lough, T. Keith Blankenship, and Kevin J. Krizman, "A Short Tutorial on Wireless LAN's and IEEE 802.11"
2) Proxim, Inc., "What is a Wireless LAN?"
3) Sajjad A. Jaffer, "Information Systems Engineering (ISE 11)
4) Theodore S. Rappaport, "Wireless Communications"
6) http://www.wirelesslan.com, "Wireless LAN Benefits"
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