Wireless Technology
Inside wireless and
   mobile technologies

Wireless Protocols




















Inside wireless and mobile technologies

Although you don't need to be a technology wizard to take advantage of wireless technologies, you can make better decisions about which solutions are best for you if you have a basic understanding of the terms and concepts associated with wireless. Generally speaking, wireless is a technology that uses radio waves rather than wires to send data along a communication path. Wireless devices can operate in three different network environments:

Wireless PANs (Personal Area Networks)
A small collection of mobile devices that make up a piconet (tiny network), typically located in one room. The PAN replaces the wires that would normally connect one piece of equipment to another. For example, a PAN may connect a desktop to a nearby printer, digital camera, scanner, keyboard, mouse, and PDA. In a PAN, each mobile wireless device communicates directly with other devices, and devices must be relatively close together -- typically within 33 feet of each other.

Wireless LANs (Local Area Networks)
A workgroup of wireless devices joined into a network, yet spread out over an entire office or perhaps one floor of a building. Instead of using cables to connect desktops and servers to the network, wireless LANs connect mobile devices to a small collection of wireless access points that are wired to the network. For example, employees with wireless notebooks or PDAs can access the Internet using wireless access points affixed to the ceiling in your office, and they are able to move from room to room without losing their connectivity. In a wireless LAN, each mobile wireless device communicates with the access point, which can be several hundred feet away.

Wireless WANs (Wide Area Networks)
A network of wireless devices that work beyond a single building, operated by a public carrier such as your cellular provider. In a wireless WAN, you can use wireless to reach a carrier's voice or data network instead of plugging your notebook into a phone jack and dialing into the Internet. For example, field personnel can check prices or inventory while visiting a customer site by using a wireless WAN to query a database back at the office. In a WAN, each mobile device communicates to a public carrier's base station. Public carriers install networks of base stations (similar to cell phone towers) throughout large geographic areas, effectively providing coverage across entire states, regions, or even countries.

Utilizing these technologies has become much easier in recent years. Furthermore, industry standards have significantly stabilized and vendors of hardware and applications/software have created offerings with robust capabilities -- this means that data is kept safer during a wireless transmission or when a device is lost or stolen.