Wi Fi/Wi Max Ė the Wireless Broadband Revolution
It sometimes helps to remind oneself that radios, television sets and computers are all trappings of the modern technological age. With the advent of computers came the innovation of the Internet and broadband transmission. Here was a development that revamped the whole process of communication and ensured that our lives could never be quite the same ever again.
Changing times. All these applications have become so much a part of everyday life at home and at work that one could be forgiven for regarding them as indispensable on the one hand and taking them for granted on the other, contradictory as that may sound.
Midway through the 1970s, telephones, another invention of the 20th century, without which we now find it difficult to envision an existence, were elbowed out of the way by the development of LANs Ė local area networks, which were one jump ahead of basic telecom services. LANs ushered in the age of the personal computer and the Internet, with web browsers making a mine of information available to millions at the mere click of a mouse.
Mapping the air. But it didnít stop there, as technology advanced to enter the realm of negotiating the airwaves. Welcome to Wi-Fi technology, sometimes referred to as open spectrum, which represents the next stage in the proliferation of the Internet around the world. As was the case with the development of the Internet, Wi-Fi technology was also initially used only for technical applications before it finally became a household name. Ever since it first made its appearance, the development of Wi-Fi technology has expanded by leaps and bounds.
That Wi-Fi technology has become popular so fast is hardly surprising when you consider all the advantages it offers. For starters it is inexpensive and efficient - and itís a technology that promises to deliver, which is, after all, the crux of the matter. At the end of the day, you want to have access to a system that is dependable and lives up to its reputation.
New horizons. Just think about it Ė what does using Wi-Fi involve? Essentially, all you have is a box thatís about the size of an average book, through which you can access broadband Internet through a card that acts as the receiver. Times are changing fast and very soon it is entirely possible that even laptops may be Wi-Fi enabled.
Wi-Fi offers tremendous potential in taking the development of wireless technology to a higher level. With Wi-Fi, itís possible to use a few frequencies only for consumer access Ė and whatís more the access can be limitless! In addition, Wi-Fi is Ďsmartí technology and can get around congestion in the airwaves.
What more could you want? Itís cheap, limitless and open to anyone who wants to use it. Hardly surprising that there are millions of takers, is it not?. And who do you think has been taken by surprise? Youíre right Ė itís the mobile phone companies, which considered that they had the future mapped out with the arrival of 3G technologies, which seemed like the ultimate in the development of multimedia at the time. But 3G technology did not work out as well as they had expected. And its future was hijacked by the arrival of Wi-Fi, which had so much more to offer.
Forging ahead. Wi-Fi took the telecom industry by storm and Wi-Fi packages began to sell like hotcakes from stores such as Wal-Mart within a very short time. Although corporate communities were apprehensive about the security issues connected with Wi-Fi, for the home user, it was nothing short of a dream come true.
All you need is to have a cable plugged into a DSL box through your broadband connection. Slip a card costing about into your laptop and Ė the world is at your feet Ė you can surf the net, send email or stream video from wherever you are!! And thatís not all Ė Wi-Fi technology is set to go much further with the establishment of public networks.
Take a look at the number of hotspots that have been set up in all sorts of locations, from parks to airports to Starbucks sites. There are also cases of neighbors making use of Wi-Fi to utilize a common broadband connection. With the cost of Wi-Fi equipment falling steadily, the proliferation of Wi-Fi is set to gather momentum, until it becomes a universal standard.
However, until there are enough commercial hotspots, the Wi-Fi signal is one that you will not be able to detect easily. There are various companies working on the task of making this easier but it will be a few years yet before they succeed
Promise for the future. In the years to come, all consumer electronics will be Wi-Fi enabled. Personal computers will just need to be turned on to turn into hubs for wireless networks. However, there are four main issues connected with the installation of Wi-Fi in the home.
* The first of these is the question of making Wi-Fi available everywhere. You can safely assume that you can depend on a signal when you are using a cell phone; however, with Wi-Fi, the opposite is more likely to be a safer bet most of the time. Even if you happen to be in the vicinity of a hotspot, it is entirely possible that you will be unable to log on because the network is a private one.
And then again, even if it is a commercial network, you will probably only be able to gain access to it as a subscriber. You may find that even public venues such as airports and hotels will provide restricted access at a few select locations such as in the lobby or at particular gates.
Some companies have tried to develop key chains, pendants and other small objects that will respond to a Wi-Fi signal. But you would have to have many more commercial hotspots for such measures to really be successful. Till then, itís more likely that you will have to look out for places where you can get the Wi-Fi signal.
* The second issue is that of making the living room a wireless zone. Although digital equipment is quickly gaining popularity, the equipment in many living rooms is still mainly analog in nature. Manufacturers of consumer electronics have been unable to develop a common medium to link such equipment, with the issue being snarled up in wires running under furniture etc. But Wi-Fi could change all that by connecting up phones, as well as video and music systems in the home.
This in turn is likely to bring in the concept of a central entertainment server, capable of recording television programs and storing music and video data, which can then be played back on any available screen in the home. Once a wireless living room becomes a virtual reality, so to speak, itís entirely possible that Internet video may be next in line. This again is likely to boost the demand for broadband dramatically.
* The third issue concerns the integration of Wi-Fi into consumer electronics. This will cause a spiraling demand for broadband access, which will again offer fresh prospects for the proliferation of Wi-Fi. This will be a vast improvement on the present situation where broadband access in the home comes either from the phone company or the cable company Ė when it is available.
Consider that Wi-Fi hotspots on telephone poles or lamp posts equipped with suitable antennae to expand range and steer clear of congestion could be just as effective, if not better. Taking into account economies of scale, it could also work out to be a much more economical choice compared with other wireless alternatives.
* Lastly, thereís the question of integrating Wi Fi into cell phones. Once Wi Fi access is freely available in the home, around the neighborhood and in various public places, you can envision an environment in which Wi-Fi could be associated with cell phones. These days, it is fairly commonplace to find consumers using a cell phone when theyíre out. At home you will probably see them using a cordless phone. And then again, they may be using a Wi-Fi network for data related applications.
Although itís possible that some of these gadgets may use common frequencies, it is equally possible that they may operate on different standards that remain separate from each other. Wi-Fi could well provide that vital link between them, particularly in the case of high speed transmission. Transmission of voice can be just as effectively achieved by Wi-Fi as over a cordless phone. And youíll also find that they are much more economical when you consider that these calls are transmitted over the Internet instead of a telephone network.
About the Author: One company that has had a considerable impact on developments in wireless and wireline network engineering is Glow Networks (www.glownetworks.com).. The company was founded by Dr. Jay Srinivasan and has specialized in this field. Glow Networks is headquartered in Richardson, Texas, has a presence in India as well as other countries in the Far East. Glow Networks has also been active in Canada.
Glow Networks has had a great deal of experience in deploying networks for telecom companies. The company specializes in providing end-to-end networking solutions and is always working with its customers to bring new technology to consumers. The Company has plans of developing service solutions that will make deployment of wireless broadband networks quick and efficient.
The company engages as many as 160 engineers and has forged effective partnerships with various telecom companies in India and the United States.