Broadband wireless access is an increasingly exciting option, especially because cable modems and DSL are not always available as easily and as widely as we would like. Wireless broadband access provides the opportunity to make use of many new technologies, including wireless local area networks (WLANs), such as the popular IEEE 802.11x standards; and wireless metropolitan area networks (WMANs), including recent IEEE 802.16 WiMax specifications along with several proprietary systems, including Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), Free Space Optics, and virtual fiber (VF). Wireless systems increasingly offer more options, each of which promises greater speeds, supports QoS, and operates over a wider range of footprints.
It is likely that within the next couple years, more than half of the new fixed phone lines installed worldwide each year will be wireless. Fixed wireless is a strong contender to fill the gap where existing wiring is not up to the job or where there is no wiring at all. For example, about one in five people in the United States lives in an area that is too remote to receive any type of fast wireline access to the Internet, and this is an even more prevalent situation in vast but not densely populated parts of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Further, millions of people work in modest industrial parks that do not have fast access and are not able to receive DSL, cable, or fiber connections. Wireless broadband can often be used in such situations.
The cost of wireless links has been halving every seven years, and the data capacity of these links has been doubling every three years. These factors combined mean that the cost-to-capacity ratio in wireless communications has been dropping by 50% about every two years. For wireless links, the construction costs account for approximately 20% of the total installation cost, and equipment accounts for the other 80%.
Wireless systems often operate in a point-to-multipoint mode. The antenna communicates with several different clients' antennas, usually installed within a well-defined region. Because the air is a shared medium, like cable, the maximum transmission rate that can be provided to any one client decreases as more clients are served. Clients that need the greatest bit rate obtainable from a system (e.g., an ISP) may need to arrange for a point-to-point system.
Because there are now so many wireless alternatives available, Part IV of this book is dedicated entirely to wireless communications. Chapter 13, "Wireless Communications Basics," introduces the history and other basics of wireless communications. Chapters 14 and 15 discuss all the wireless standards, systems, and options in detail. Chapter 16, "Emerging Wireless Applications," describes the handset revolution and the increasing number of applications driving the need for next-generation wireless technologies.
Part I: Communications Fundamentals
Telecommunications Technology Fundamentals
Traditional Transmission Media
Establishing Communications Channels
Part II: Data Networking and the Internet
Data Communications Basics
Local Area Networking
Wide Area Networking
The Internet and IP Infrastructures
Part III: The New Generation of Networks
Broadband Access Alternatives
Part IV: Wireless Communications
Wireless Communications Basics
WMANs, WLANs, and WPANs
Emerging Wireless Applications