Over the past five years, the world has become increasingly mobile. As a result, traditional ways of networking the world have proven inadequate to meet the challenges posed by our new collective lifestyle. If users must be connected to a network by physical cables, their movement is dramatically reduced. Wireless connectivity, however, poses no such restriction and allows a great deal more free movement on the part of the network user. As a result, wireless technologies are encroaching on the traditional realm of "fixed" or "wired" networks. This change is obvious to anybody who drives on a regular basis. One of the "life and death" challenges to those of us who drive on a regular basis is the daily gauntlet of erratically driven cars containing mobile phone users in the driver's seat.
Wireless connectivity for voice telephony has created a whole new industry. Adding mobile connectivity into the mix for telephony has had profound influences on the business of delivering voice calls because callers could be connected to people, not devices. We are on the cusp of an equally profound change in computer networking. Wireless telephony has been successful because it enables people to connect with each other regardless of location. New technologies targeted at computer networks promise to do the same for Internet connectivity. The most successful wireless data networking technology this far has been 802.11.
In the first edition of this book, I wrote about 802.11 being the tip of the trend in mobile data networking. At the time, 802.11 and third-generation mobile technologies were duking it out for mindshare, but 802.11 has unquestionably been more successful to date.