The fast development in the field of wireless communication gives access to a wide range of new applications. Cellular systems have experienced exponential growth over the last decade and there are currently about two billion users worldwide.
However, many technical challenges remain in designing robust wireless networks that deliver the performance necessary to support emerging applications.
The exponential growth of cellular telephone use and wireless Internet access has led to great optimism about wireless technology in general. Obviously not all wireless applications will flourish. While many wireless systems and companies have enjoyed spectacular success, there have also been many failures along the way, including first-generation wireless LANs, the Iridium satellite system, wide area data services such as Metricom, and fixed wireless access (wireless “cable”) to the home. Indeed, it is impossible to predict what wireless failures and triumphs lie on the horizon. Moreover, there must be sufficient flexibility and creativity among both engineers and regulators to allow for accidental successes. It is clear, however, that the current and emerging wireless systems of today – coupled with the vision of applications that wireless can enable – ensure a bright future for wireless technology
The term wireless is normally used to refer to any type of electrical or electronic operation. wireless communication is the transfer of information over a distance without the use of electrical conductors or wires. The distances involved may be short or very long over thousands of kilometers .Wireless communications is generally considered to be a branch of telecommunication
Wireless communications is by any measure the fastest growing segment of the communications industry. As such, it has captured the attention of the media and the imagination of the public. Cellular systems have experienced exponential growth over the last decade and there are currently about two billion users worldwide. Indeed, cellular phones have become a critical business tool and part of everyday life in most developed countries, and they are rapidly supplanting antiquated wireline systems in many developing countries. In addition, wireless local area networks currently supplement or replace wired networks in many homes, businesses, and campuses. Many new applications – including wireless sensor networks, automated highways and factories, smart homes and appliances, and remote telemedicine – are emerging from research ideas to concrete systems. The explosive growth of wireless systems coupled with the proliferation of laptop and palmtop computers suggests a bright future for wireless networks, both as stand-alone systems and as part of the larger networking infrastructure. However, many technical challenges remain in designing robust wireless networks that deliver the performance necessary to support emerging applications. History of wireless networks from the smoke signals of the pre-industrial age to the cellular, satellite, and other wireless networks of today. Including the technical challenges that must still be overcome. We describe current wireless systems along with emerging systems and standards. The gap between current and emerging systems and the vision for future wireless applications indicates that much work remains to be done to make this vision a reality
The first wireless networks were developed in the pre-industrial age. These systems transmitted information over line-of-sight distances using smoke signals, torch signaling, flashing mirrors, signal flares, or semaphore flags. Observation stations were built on hilltops and along roads to relay these messages over large distances. These early communication networks were replaced first by the telegraph network which was invented by Samuel Morse in 1838and later by telephone. In 1895, a few decades after the telephone was invented, Marconi demonstrated the first radio transmission from the Isle of Wight to a tugboat 18 miles away, and radio communications was born. Radio technology advanced rapidly to enable transmissions over larger distances with better quality, less power, and smaller, cheaper devices, thereby enabling public and private radio communications, television, and wireless networking.
Early radio systems transmitted analog signals. Today most radio systems transmit digital signals composed of binary bits, where the bits are obtained directly from a data signal or by digitizing an analog signal. A digital radio can transmit a continuous bit stream or it can group the bits into packets. The latter type of radio is called a packet radio and is often characterized by busty transmissions: the radio is idle except when it transmits a packet, although it may transmit packets continuously. The first network based on packet radio, ALOHANET, was developed at the University of Hawaii in 1971. This network enabled computer sites at seven campuses spread out over four islands to communicate with a central computer on Oahu via radio transmission. The network architecture used a star topology with the central computer at its hub. Any two computers could establish a bi-directional communications link between them by going through the central hub. ALOHANET incorporated the first set of protocols for channel access and routing in packet radio systems, and many of the underlying principles in these protocols are still in use today.
The vision of wireless communications supporting information exchange between people or devices is the communications frontier of the next few decades, and much of it already exists in some form. This vision will allow multimedia communication from anywhere in the world using a small handheld device or laptop. Wireless networks will connect palmtop, laptop, and desktop computers anywhere within an office building or campus, as well as from the corner cafe. In the home these networks will enable a new class of intelligent electronic devices that can interact with each other and with the Internet in addition to providing connectivity between computers, phones, and security/monitoring systems. Such smart homes can also help the elderly and disabled with assisted living, patient monitoring, and emergency response.
Wireless video will enable remote classrooms, remote training facilities, and remote hospitals anywhere in the world. Wireless sensors have an enormous range of both commercial and military applications. Commercial applications include monitoring of fire hazards, toxic waste sites, stress and strain in buildings and bridges, carbon dioxide movement, and the spread of chemicals and gasses at a disaster site. These wireless sensors self-configure into a network to process and interpret sensor measurements and then convey this information to a centralized control location. Military applications include identification and tracking of enemy targets, detection of chemical and biological attacks, support of unmanned robotic vehicles, and counterterrorism. Finally, wireless networks enable distributed control systems with remote devices, sensors, and actuators linked together via wireless communication channels. Such systems in turn enable automated highways, mobile robots, and easily reconfigurable industrial automation
Many technical challenges must be addressed to enable the wireless applications of the future. These challenges extend across all aspects of the system design. As wireless terminals add more features, these small devices must incorporate multiple modes of operation in order to support the different applications and media. Computers process voice, image, text, and video data, but breakthroughs in circuit design are required to implement the same multimode operation in a cheap, lightweight, handheld device. Consumers don't want large batteries that frequently need recharging, so transmission and signal processing at the portable terminal must consume minimal power. The signal processing required to support multimedia applications and networking functions can be power intensive. Thus, wireless infrastructure-based networks, such as wireless LANs and cellular systems, place as much of the processing burden as possible on fixed sites with large power resources. The associated bottlenecks and single points of failure are clearly undesirable for the overall system. Adhoc wireless networks with out infrastructure are are highly appealing for many applications because of their flexibility and robustness. For these networks, all processing and control must be performed by the network nodes in a distributed fashion, making energy efficiency challenging to achieve. Energy is a particularly critical resource in networks where nodes cannot recharge their batteries – for example, in sensing applications. Network design to meet application requirements under such hard energy constraints remains a big technological hurdle. The finite bandwidth and random variations of wireless channels also require robust applications that degrade gracefully as network performance degrades.
Wireless networking is also a significant challenge. The network must be able to locate a given user wherever it is among billions of globally distributed mobile terminals. It must then route a call to that user as it moves at speeds of up to 100 km/hr. The finite resources of the network must be allocated in a fair and efficient manner relative to changing user demands and locations. Moreover, there currently exists a tremendous infrastructure of wired networks: the telephone system, the Internet, and fiber optic cables – which could be used to connect wireless systems together into a global network. However, wireless systems with mobile users will never be able to compete with wired systems in terms of data rates and reliability. Interfacing between wireless and wired networks with vastly different performance capabilities is a difficult problem.
Cellular telephone systems are extremely popular and lucrative worldwide: these are the systems that ignited the wireless revolution. Cellular systems provide two-way voice and data communication with regional, national, or international coverage. Cellular systems were initially designed for mobile terminals inside vehicles with antennas mounted on the vehicle roof. Today these systems have evolved to support lightweight handheld mobile terminals operating inside and outside buildings at both pedestrian and vehicle speeds.
Initial cellular system designs were mainly driven by the high cost of base stations, For this reason, early cellular systems used a relatively small number of cells to cover an entire city or region. The cell base stations were placed on tall buildings or mountains and transmitted at very high power with cell coverage areas of several square miles. These large cells are called macrocells. Signal power radiated uniformly in all directions, so a mobile moving in a circle around the base station would have approximately constant received power unless the signal were blocked by an attenuating object. This circular contour of constant power yields a hexagonal cell shape for the system, since a hexagon is the closest shape to a circle that can cover a given area with multiple non overlapping cells
Cellular systems in urban areas now mostly use smaller cells with base stations close to street level that are transmitting at much lower power. These smaller cells are called microcells or pico cells, depending on their size. This evolution to smaller cells occured for two reasons: the need for higher capacity in areas with high user density and the reduced size and cost of base station electronics. A cell of any size can support roughly the same number of users if the system is scaled accordingly. Thus, for a given coverage area, a system with many microcells has a higher number of users per unit area than a system with just a few macrocells. In addition, less power is required at the mobile terminals in microcellular systems, since the terminals are closer to the base stations. However, the evolution to smaller cells has complicated network design. Mobiles traverse a small cell more quickly than a large cell, so handoffs must be processed more quickly. In addition, location management becomes more complicated, since there are more cells within a given area where a mobile may be located. It is also harder to develop general propagation models for small cells, since signal propagation in these cells is highly dependent on base station placement and the geometry of the surrounding reflectors. In particular, a hexagonal cell shape is generally not a good approximation to signal propagation in microcells. Microcellular systems are often designed using square or triangular cell shapes, but these shapes have a large margin of error in their approximation to microcell signal propagation