A wireless network is any type of computer network that uses wireless data connections for connecting network nodes.
Wireless networking is a method by which homes, telecommunications networks and enterprise (business) installations avoid the costly process of introducing cables into a building, or as a connection between various equipment locations. Wireless telecommunications networks are generally implemented and administered using radio communication. This implementation takes place at the physical level (layer) of the OSI model network structure.
Examples of wireless networks include cell phone networks, Wi-Fi local networks and terrestrial microwave networks.Computers are very often connected to networks using wireless links
Terrestrial microwave –Terrestrial microwave communication uses Earth-based transmitters and receivers resembling satellite dishes. Terrestrial microwaves are in the low-gigahertz range, which limits all communications to line-of-sight. Relay stations are spaced approximately 48 km (30 mi) apart.
Communications satellites – Satellites communicate via microwave radio waves, which are not deflected by the Earth's atmosphere. The satellites are stationed in space, typically in geosynchronous orbit 35,400 km (22,000 mi) above the equator. These Earth-orbiting systems are capable of receiving and relaying voice, data, and TV signals.
Cellular and PCS systems use several radio communications technologies. The systems divide the region covered into multiple geographic areas. Each area has a low-power transmitter or radio relay antenna device to relay calls from one area to the next area.
Radio and spread spectrum technologies – Wireless local area networks use a high-frequency radio technology similar to digital cellular and a low-frequency radio technology. Wireless LANs use spread spectrum technology to enable communication between multiple devices in a limited area. IEEE 802.11 defines a common flavor of open-standards wireless radio-wave technology known as Wifi.
1 Types of wireless networks
1. Wireless PAN
Wireless personal area networks (WPANs) interconnect devices within a relatively small area, that is generally within a person's reach. For example, both Bluetooth radio and invisible infrared light provides a WPAN for interconnecting a headset to a laptop. ZigBee also supports WPAN applications. Wi-Fi PANs are becoming commonplace (2010) as equipment designers start to integrate Wi-Fi into a variety of consumer electronic devices. Intel "My WiFi" and Windows 7 "virtual Wi-Fi" capabilities have made Wi-Fi PANs simpler and easier to set up and configure.
2. Wireless LAN
Wireless LANs are often used for connecting to local resources and to the Internet
A wireless local area network (WLAN) links two or more devices over a short distance using a wireless distribution method, usually providing a connection through an access point for Internet access. The use of spread-spectrum or OFDM technologies may allow users to move around within a local coverage area, and still remain connected to the network.
Products using the IEEE 802.11 WLAN standards are marketed under the Wi-Fi brand name. Fixed wireless technology implements point-to-point links between computers or networks at two distant locations, often using dedicated microwave or modulated laser light beams over line of sight paths. It is often used in cities to connect networks in two or more buildings without installing a wired link.
3. Wireless mesh network
A wireless mesh network is a wireless network made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology. Each node forwards messages on behalf of the other nodes. Mesh networks can "self heal", automatically re-routing around a node that has lost power.
4. Wireless MAN
Wireless metropolitan area networks are a type of wireless network that connects several wireless LANs.
WiMAX is a type of Wireless MAN and is described by the IEEE 802.16 standard.
2 Wireless WAN
Wireless wide area networks are wireless networks that typically cover large areas, such as between neighboring towns and cities, or city and suburb. These networks can be used to connect branch offices of business or as a public internet access system. The wireless connections between access points are usually point to point microwave links using parabolic dishes on the 2.4 GHz band, rather than omnidirectional antennas used with smaller networks. A typical system contains base station gateways, access points and wireless bridging relays. Other configurations are mesh systems where each access point acts as a relay also. When combined with renewable energy systems such as photo-voltaic solar panels or wind systems they can be stand alone systems.
A cellular network or mobile network is a radio network distributed over land areas called cells, each served by at least one fixed-location transceiver, known as a cell site or base station. In a cellular network, each cell characteristically uses a different set of radio frequencies from all their immediate neighboring cells to avoid any interference.
When joined together these cells provide radio coverage over a wide geographic area. This enables a large number of portable transceivers (e.g., mobile phones, pagers, etc.) to communicate with each other and with fixed transceivers and telephones anywhere in the network, via base stations, even if some of the transceivers are moving through more than one cell during transmission.
Although originally intended for cell phones, with the development of smart phones, cellular telephone networks routinely carry data in addition to telephone conversations:
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM): The GSM network is divided into three major systems: the switching system, the base station system, and the operation and support system. The cell phone connects to the base system station which then connects to the operation and support station; it then connects to the switching station where the call is transferred to where it needs to go. GSM is the most common standard and is used for a majority of cell phones.
Personal Communications Service (PCS): PCS is a radio band that can be used by mobile phones in North America and South Asia. Sprint happened to be the first service to set up a PCS.
D-AMPS: Digital Advanced Mobile Phone Service, an upgraded version of AMPS, is being phased out due to advancement in technology. The newer GSM networks are replacing the older system.
3 Global area network
A global area network (GAN) is a network used for supporting mobile across an arbitrary number of wireless LANs, satellite coverage areas, etc. The key challenge in mobile communications is handing off user communications from one local coverage area to the next. In IEEE Project 802, this involves a succession of terrestrial wireless LANs.
4 Wireless Network Elements
The telecommunications network at the physical layer also consists of many interconnected wireline Network Elements (NEs). These NEs can be stand-alone systems or products that are either supplied by a single manufacturer, or are assembled by the service provider (user) or system integrator with parts from several different manufacturers.
Wireless NEs are products and devices used by a wireless carrier to provide support for the backhaul network as well as a Mobile Switching Center (MSC).
Reliable wireless service depends on the network elements at the physical layer to be protected against all operational environments and applications (see GR-3171, Generic Requirements for Network Elements Used in Wireless Networks - Physical Layer Criteria).
What are especially important are the NEs that are located on the cell tower to the Base Station (BS) cabinet. The attachment hardware and the positioning of the antenna and associated closures/cables are required to have adequate strength, robustness, corrosion resistance, and rain/solar resistance for expected wind, storm, ice, and other weather conditions. Requirements for individual components, such as hardware, cables, connectors, and closures, shall take into consideration the structure to which they are attached.
Compared to wired systems, wireless networks are frequently subject to electromagnetic interference. This can be caused by other networks or other types of equipment that generate radio waves that are within, or close, to the radio bands used for communication. Interference can degrade the signal or cause the system to fail.
Absorption and reflection
Some materials cause absorption of electromagnetic waves, preventing it from reaching the receiver, in other cases, particularly with metallic or conductive materials reflection occurs. This can cause dead zones where no reception is available. Aluminium foiled thermal isolation in modern homes can easily reduce indoor mobile signals by 10 dB frequently leading to complaints about bad reception of long distance rural cell signals.
In multipath fading two or more different routes taken by the signal, due to reflections, can cause the signal to cancel out at certain locations, and to be stronger in other places (upfade).
Hidden node problem
The hidden node problem occurs in some types of network when a node is visible from a wireless access point (AP), but not from other nodes communicating with that AP. This leads to difficulties in media access control.
Shared resource problem
The wireless spectrum is a limited resource and shared by all nodes in the range of its transmitters. Bandwidth allocation becomes complex with multiple participating users. Often users are not aware that advertised numbers (e.g., for IEEE 802.11 equipment or LTE networks) are not their capacity, but shared with all other users and thus the individual user rate is far lower. With increasing demand, the capacity crunch is more and more likely to happen. User-in-the-loop (UIL) may be an alternative solution to ever upgrading to newer technologies for over-provisioning.
6 Capacity Channel
Understanding of SISO, SIMO, MISO and MIMO. Using multiple antennas and transmitting in different frequency channels can reduce fading, and can greatly increase the system capacity.
The maximum data rate of any single wireless link can be described by the Shannon's theorem which is related to the bandwidth in hertz, and the noise on the channel.
The total network bandwidth depends on how dispersive the medium is (more dispersive medium generally has better total bandwidth because it minimises interference), how many frequencies are available, how noisy those frequencies are, how many aerials are used and whether directional antenna are in use, whether nodes employ power control and so on.
Cellular wireless networks generally have good capacity, due to their use of directional aerials, and their ability to reuse radio channels in non-adjacent cells. Additionally, cells can be made very small using low power transmitters, and this fact is used in cities to give network capacity that scales linearly with population density.