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Wireless Local Area Networks

Independent Study Project Summer 1999 Copyright 1999 Pierfranco Issa Prepared for Dr. Lawrence Dunleavy (EE) 1999-07-27

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1 2 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................3 WIRELESS WANS..............................................................................................................3

3 WIRELESS LANS ...............................................................................................................6 3.1 WIRELESS LAN DIFFICULTIES .......................................................................................8 3.2 IEEE 802.11 ................................................................................................................10 3.3 SECURITY ....................................................................................................................11 4 RADIO TECHNOLOGY ......................................................................................................12 4.1 NARROWBAND TECHNOLOGY ......................................................................................13 4.2 DIRECT SEQUENCE SPREAD SPECTRUM ........................................................................13 4.3 FREQUENCY HOPPING SPREAD SPECTRUM ...................................................................14 5 INFRARED LAN TECHNOLOGY ........................................................................................16 5.1 DIRECT INFRARED TECHNOLOGY .................................................................................17 5.2 DIFFUSE INFRARED TECHNOLOGY ...............................................................................18 6 EXPLORATION OF WIRELESS LAN TECHNOLOGY AT USF ...............................................19 6.1 CONFIGURATION FOR HARRIS PRISM PEER-TO-PEER LINK .........................................20 6.2 NETWORKING FOR PRISM CARDS ............................................................................21 6.3 INDOOR TESTING OF PRISM LINK ............................................................................21 6.4 OUTDOOR TESTING OF PRISM LINK .........................................................................22 7 TESTING RESULTS ..........................................................................................................23

8 RAYTHEON RAYLINK EXAMPLE ...................................................................................23 8.1 RATHEON RAYLINK VS. HARRIS PRISM LINK .........................................................24 8.2 WIRELESS LAN APPLICATIONS ...................................................................................25 8.3 HEALTH CARE .............................................................................................................25 8.4 EDUCATION AND RESEARCH ........................................................................................26 9 CONCLUSION...................................................................................................................27 9.1 COST IN CONTEXT OF EDUCATIONAL APPLICATION .....................................................28 9.2 PERFORMANCE ............................................................................................................29 10 10.1 10.2 10.3 FUTURE OF WLANS.....................................................................................................29 STANDARDS .................................................................................................................30 BLUETOOTH ................................................................................................................31 OTHER PROJECTS.........................................................................................................32

FIGURE 8: CUTR BUILDING 1ST FLOOR ..................................................................................34 FIGURE 9: CUTR BUILDING 2ND FLOOR ..................................................................................35 FIGURE 10: OUTDOOR OPEN FIELD TEST SITE ........................................................................36 REFERENCES ..........................................................................................................................37 ADDITIONAL REFERENCES NOT SPECIFICALLY CITED .............................................................37 GLOSSARY .............................................................................................................................38
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Over the last five years desktop computers have changed from stand-alone workstations into networked clients which rely on connectivity. E-mail, remote storage and the Web are just a few of the uses that are common place in most institutions, both educational and commercial. In addition, computing is becoming more mobile, handheld and notebook computer sales are growing each year. A report from Dataquest Inc. [1] has shown that Notebook sales have increased by 20% each year for the last three years and show no sign of slowing.

This move towards mobile use and a reliance on the network has caused increasing problems for computing departments in all areas of industry and education. To address these problems Radio and Infrared technology are being used to connect mobile users to the network and provide a network infrastructure in buildings that previously would have been impossible. What was once a fledgling technology is being transformed by improved systems into a viable and cost-effective solution.

Wireless networks can be divided into two areas in much the same way that traditional wired networks are: Local Area Networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs). As with wired networks, wireless LANs have a higher data rate and are confined to small areas such as a building or campus. Wireless WANs can cover anything from a city to a continent. This work concentrates on Local Area Networks and much of the content of this paper is dedicated to wireless LANs, however, a brief description of wireless WANs is included.

Wireless WANs

The most familiar form of wireless network is a Mobile Phone network. Millions of people around the world use mobile phones to connect them to a Public Switched Telephone Network. Mobile phone service providers invest an enormous amount of capital into creating an infrastructure which links antennas, known as base stations, to the public phone network. Several different standards for mobile phone technologies
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have been developed in the USA and Europe based on either analogue or digital radio technology. The typical and most common frequencies used with these technologies are in the vicinity of 900MHz and 2000MHz.

Instead of attempting to create a separate wireless WAN for data traffic, although this has been attempted by some companies [2], most service providers in the industry are attempting to offer a service using their current mobile phone network. Using the existing mobile phone infrastructure has several advantages over specialized wireless WAN ventures. These advantages include, the instant coverage of large geographical areas, an existing administrative system for billing and maintenance, and a service which has already been established as reliable and cost effective in the eyes of potential customers. This network could offer three different types of service: a datagrams service used for applications such as credit card transactions, a broadcast service used for road traffic announcements and other advisory services and, finally, a fully interactive service allowing client/server connections. However, attempting to integrate data traffic onto a voice network introduces many problems associated with transmitting data over a medium designed for voice.

The earlier mobile phones were based on analogue technology, called Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS), and are still widely used in the USA and to a lesser extent in Europe. A data network service provided across these older technologies is all but impossible, although some services do exist. Low capacity, low security, high noise and high cost are just some of the disadvantages of analogue systems, making them less than ideal for data transmission.

Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) networks are an attempt to overcome these problems while still using analogue technology. The technology uses channel hopping to transmit data in the analogue channels used by mobile phones. The system is able to coexist by only using the channels during times when they are idle. When a conflict occurs, voice traffic is given priority. This service successfully addresses the problems of analogue data transmission, providing higher security, higher data rates and other features such as message broadcast, roaming, compression and authentication. CDPD
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however, is only likely to be an interim solution as it still relies on the analogue infrastructure.

The future of fully integrated data/voice networks is Digital Cellular Technology. Digital Cellular services are already widely used in Europe and Asia using the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Other examples of digital formats used in the US include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), which is a particular method for sending information over the common air interface. Although predominantly used for voice transmissions, the service offers all the requirements for a data network; high security with the use of encryption, increased capacity and performance and better recovery from noise using error correction. The standard was designed from scratch as an integrated data/voice network and was not hindered with the need for backward computability as with the US and the Japanese systems. Consequently, the standard has been adopted by over 50 countries around the world making it ideally placed as a future standard for global wireless WANs.

An alternative to using an existing Mobile Phone network would be to use a specialised wireless WAN. Two such systems are already implemented in parts of the USA and Europe: ARDIS from IBM/Motorola and MOBITEX from Bell/Ericsson. The technology used is still analogue and very similar to mobile phone systems, however, only data is transmitted across these networks. The ARDIS system was set up to support IBM field engineers, but has been expanded to offer a commercial service. Some 400 cities in the USA have base stations allowing access to the ARDIS network. The performance of the system is not very high with data rates of less than 2400 bits/s, however, a faster system of 19,200 bits/s is being planned. The MOBITEX network is a newer system and already supports 19.2Kbit/s data rates, although subscriber throughput is less than this. Due to the relatively small market base and the expense of the radio transceivers, the systems have not been widely subscribed to.

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Wireless LANs

Wireless networks are a reality, installations in hospitals and trading rooms are becoming common place. The recent ratification of the IEEE 802.11 Standard for Wireless LANs has legitimised the systems which are widely available and given consumers the confidence to start investing in wireless technology. The intention of the wireless LAN is not to replace the wired network, as reduced speed and other complications mean that wired systems will have a higher data rate transmission in a typical environment with our current available technology. However, a wireless network will be more cost effective in the long run. Wireless systems are designed to solve problems that wired solutions couldnt address. The most obvious scenario would be the mobile user who needs to access network resources from his or her portable computer. A wireless network would allow them to work from any location within the wireless LAN and access the network resources with the minimum of effort. In contrast to the mobile solution, a wireless system could be used with desktop computers, for example, in a building, where regulations prevent cables being installed. A wireless solution would allow the desktop computers to connect to a network without disturbing the structure of the building. Another use might be a temporary network, at an exhibition. A wireless LAN could be set up within minutes and then dismantled after the exhibition has finished leaving no trace.

Wireless networks can be implemented in two ways. Those listed above are examples of structured networks, where the wireless LAN is an extension of the existing LAN. They consist of Access Points (AP) spread around a building or campus and connected together or onto the wired LAN using copper cable. Mobile users in range of an AP can connect to other wireless users or to network resources. This type of WLAN is known as an infrastructure WLAN (See Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Infrastructure WLAN

In infrastructure WLANs, multiple access points link the WLAN to the wired network and allow users to efficiently share network resources. The access points not only provide communication with the wired network but also mediate wireless network traffic in the immediate neighborhood. Multiple access points can provide wireless coverage for an entire building or campus. As a user moves around the building or campus, the AP hands off responsibility for that user to the next AP. Another type of wireless network, and the simplest form, is the ad-hoc, peer to peer network, which may be set up quickly between several computers for the duration of a meeting. The simplest WLAN configuration is an independent LAN that connects a set of PCs with wireless adapters. Any time two or more wireless adapters are within range of each other, they can set up an independent network (See Figure 2). These on-demand networks typically require no administration or preconfiguration.

Figure 2. Independent WLAN

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Access points can extend the range of ad hoc LANs by acting as a repeater, effectively doubling the distance between wireless PCs (See Figure 3).

Figure 3. Independent WLAN Using Access Point as Repeater


Wireless LAN Difficulties

Two types of technology exist to form a wireless LAN: radio and infrared. However, manufacturers using either of these technologies face the same problems when attempting to implement a wireless LAN solution. Multiple access protocols that enable devices to share a medium, such as Ethernet, are well developed and understood. Yet the nature of the wireless medium makes traditional methods of sharing a common connection more difficult.

Collision detection has caused many problems in networking and this is particularly the case with wireless networks. Collisions occur when two or more nodes sharing a communication medium transmit data together, the two signals corrupt each other, and the result is garbage. This has always been a problem for computer networks and the simplest protocols often do not overcome the problem. More complex protocols check the channel before transmitting data. This is very simple with Ethernet as it merely
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involves checking the voltage on the wire before transmitting. However, the process is considerably more difficult for wireless systems. It can take at least 30 to 50s to determine if the channel is clear, which is a long time when compared to the amount of time taken to transmit a packet.

Other problems exist with collision detection, the hidden terminal problem being one of them. In traditional shared medium networks if node A can hear node B and node B can hear node C, then node A can hear node C. In a wireless environment this is not a safe assumption. Obstructions and distance between A and C may cause C to be hidden from A with neither one detecting a collision when transmitting to B, causing the network to become unreliable.

Fig. 4
Collision Detection with a Hidden Terminal Problem

The solution to this problem, involves sending a Request To Send (RTS) packet to the intended recipient to prompt it to send back a Clear To Send (CTS) packet. This process informs any nearby stations that data is about to be sent, helping them to avoid transmitting and causing a collision. Both the RTS and the CTS packets contain the length of the impending data transmission so stations overhearing either of the packets know how long the transmission will take and when they can start to send themselves. Carrier sense is used to help prevent station transmitting RTS packets at the same time.

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Another problem, known as mutlipath fading, can be caused by signals bouncing off walls and other surfaces. As the signal is transmitted to the receiver a reflection of the signal may take slightly longer to arrive and will interfere with the original transmission; it may even arrive out of phase and cancel out the signal all together. Antenna diversity attempts to solve this problem, it involves having two antennas built into the hardware, and allows the system to determine which signal is stronger and therefore the correct signal.


IEEE 802.11

The IEEE 802.11 standard has been drafted to allow manufacturers to develop equipment that is compatible with other manufacturers products. The IEEE 802 standard was originally developed for wired local area networks but as technology has progressed subsets of the standard have been published. The standard defines a single Media Access Controller (MAC) layer and three Physical layers (PHY). The physical layer includes two specifications for radio operating in the 2.4GHz - 2.4835GHz ISM band: Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Radio, Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum Radio, together with a Diffuse Infrared PHY layer. Data rates of 1Mbit/s and 2Mbit/s have been specified for all the technologies.

The MAC layer has specifications for two modes of operation, Independent configuration Stations communicate directly with each other, without the need for access points, a so-called 'ad-hoc' network. This form of network has been defined as a Basic Service Set. Infrastructure configuration

Stations communicate with an access point that is connected to a wired network providing access to network resources. The area around the access point is considered to be a Basic Service Set (BSS), with several BSSs being defined as an Extended Service Set.

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In addition, the MAC layer will provide the following nine services split between the Access Point and the mobile Client: Authentication, deauthentication, privacy, MSDU delivery, association, disassociation, distribution, integration and reassociation.

The IEEE 802.11 working group have also set up a study group to investigate future enhancements of the standard. Two projects currently awaiting approval aim to investigate a PHY layer operating in the 5GHz band and a PHY layer for higher speeds in the 2.4GHz band. Both projects hope to yield improved performance for radio wireless LANs [3].



With any network, security is an important consideration. Unauthorised access can result in several forms of attack such as information theft, denial of service; where an attacker attempts to make the network unusable, and the most common form of attack, intrusion; where an attacker desires access to computers or resources on the LAN. Once an unauthorised user has gained access to the flow of data over a network, promiscuous monitoring of the network can lead to user names and passwords being intercepted and used for further attacks. Traditionally, the physical security of a building and the offices in that building will afford some security to the LAN. The nature of the wireless medium however, means that signals cannot be controlled as easily and even a secure environment cannot prevent radio signals from passing through walls and beyond the confines of a companys buildings or grounds. The problem has already been encountered, with a case brought to court in America involving a service vendor which intercepted a rivals customer list as it was being transmitted over the ARDIS network [4].

In the past wireless network manufacturers have relied on the complexity of the technology to provide security. This assumption was essentially sound when one considered that the technology was originally developed by the military. In practise this approach works to a degree, for example traditional methods of intercepting radio transmissions cannot detect a spread spectrum signal. But this is not enough to ensure
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the security of a wireless network. One could imagine a situation where an unauthorised person could gain access to the wireless LAN by using the same vendors equipment. To overcome this flaw some manufacturers use encryption to encode transmissions and so make the signal indecipherable if intercepted.

Complete confidence can only be achieved when a wireless network is treated in a similar manner to an Internet connection, where data is being transmitted over an unsecured medium susceptible to interception. Similar precautions to those put in place to accommodate an Internet connection should be implemented for a wireless network. A gateway with functions such as authorisation and authentication, possibly even encryption, could be implemented, creating a firewall to secure a network from the vulnerabilities of a wireless network.

Radio Technology

Radio network technology exists in two forms: narrow band technology and spread spectrum technology. Narrow band systems transmit and receive data on a specific radio frequency; the bands are kept as close together as possible and sharp filters are used to filter out other signals to make efficient use of the bandwidth. In order to prevent different signals from interfering with each other, a regulatory body has been established to licence the frequencies and monitor their use. These licences are very expensive and in the past have prevented manufacturers from using narrow band technology: An example of a narrow band network would be a commercial radio station [In the early 1990s, the regulatory bodies around the world set aside a band at 2.4GHz (the Instrumental, Scientific and Medical band, ISM) for use by new technologies. However, 2.4GHz is just one in several ISM bands. The 40.66-40.7 MHz segment is another example of an ISM band, available for use by remote controlled devices such as alarms and door openers]. The bands can be used without a license making it more accessible for private networks. Consequently manufacturers soon started to produce products, which used the new bands, one of which is centered at 2.4GHz.

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Spread spectrum technology spreads the signal over a range of frequencies preventing concentration of the signal in any one place. This allows large numbers of users to share the same bandwidth. There are two different methods involved in spread spectrum technology, Direct Sequence and Frequency Hopping, with both having advantages and disadvantages associated with them


Narrowband Technology

A narrowband radio system transmits and receives user information on a specific radio frequency. Narrowband radio keeps the radio signal frequency as narrow as possible just to pass the information. Undesirable crosstalk between communications channels is avoided by carefully coordinating different users on different channel frequencies. A private telephone line is much like a radio frequency. When each home in a neighborhood has its own private telephone line, people in one home cannot listen to calls made to other homes. In a radio system, privacy and noninterference are accomplished by the use of separate radio frequencies. The radio receiver filters out all radio signals except the ones on its designated frequency band [5].


Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum

Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) works by adding redundant data, called 'chips', to the signal, at least 10 chips per bit are added. The signal is then transmitted over a much wider frequency band than the narrow band equivalent. As the transmission is spread across a range of frequencies, the transmission power is lower than that of narrow band transmissions enabling it to be used in the ISM band. To other radio users the direct sequence transmission appears to be low power background noise. Because the signal is low power and spread across a wide frequency, the signal is susceptible to noise. However, the redundant data incorporated in the transmission helps to recover the original signal, the number of chips is directly proportional to the immunity from interference. The sequence of chips used to
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modulate the transmitted data is called the spreading code and only receivers that know the spreading code can decipher the signal. This unique spreading code is what allows multiple direct sequence transmitters to operate in the same area.

Fig. 5
DSSS Spreading Code Signal vs. Raw Data Transmission

Direct Sequence gives a higher throughput and is more immune to interference than frequency hopping. Unfortunately it uses two to three times more power and tends to be more costly. The wireless LAN industry seems to be split equally between Direct Sequence and Frequency Hopping, the other method of spread spectrum transmission. Lucent are one user of DSSS and are a major producer of wireless LAN products, they also play a large part in the IEEE 802.11 standard for Wireless LANs [6].


Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum

Unlike Direct Sequence spread spectrum, which spreads the data over the frequency domain, Frequency Hopping splits the data up across the time domain. A short burst of data is transmitted on a narrow band and then the transmitter quickly retunes to

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Fig. 6
FHSS Pseudorandom Hopping Sequence

another frequency and transmits again. The sequence of hops the transmitter makes is pseudorandom and is known by the receiver, enabling it to receive each short burst of

data. As the transmitter and receiver are synchronised the stream of data appears to be constant. There are certain rules governing how a frequency-hopping device must behave to make sure a device doesn't use too much bandwidth or linger too long on a single frequency. In North America, the ISM band is separated into 75 hopping channels and the power transmitted on each channel must not exceed 1W. To other radio users the frequency-hopping signal appears as short bursts of noise.

Frequency Hopping devices have different characteristics to Direct Sequence. They use less power and are generally cheaper. However, performance, compared with DSSS, tends to be lower and their immunity to interference is lower too. Consequently if a burst of data is corrupted on one hop the entire data packet must be sent again. Despite this, Frequency hopping does have one major advantage in that several access points can coexist in the same area. Therefore if an access point is struggling to cope with large numbers of users then another access point can be added to take some of the load. This cannot be done with direct sequence access points, as they would block each other from transmitting [6].

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Radio signals in wireless LANs are very sensitive to changes in their surroundings. People moving around, and changes in the position of the antenna in relation to the Access Point can all have a significant effect on the channel characteristics. Studies into indoor radio propagation have shown that received signal strength can fluctuate significantly within a period of 10 to 20 ms [7]. Most of the systems come with utilities to monitor the signal strength and performance allowing a user to adjust their orientation if necessary [However, during typical use over a prolonged period of time the user is unlickly to notice any difference].

Infrared LAN Technology

Infrared is simply invisible light. One infrared standard is supported which operates in the 850-to-950nM band with peak power of 2W. The modulation for infrared is accomplished using either 4 or 16-level pulse-positioning modulation. The physical layer supports two data rates, 1Mb/s and 2Mb/s [8]. Infrared has all the properties of visible light except that our eyes cannot see it. It cant pass through walls or ceilings but it can bounce off flat surfaces and pass through open door ways. There are a number of advantages associated with using infrared systems. One is low power consumption, which is useful when considering notebook computers. Others include the invulnerability to interference from traditional sources such as EMI and RF. Also the signals cannot escape from the building or be jammed from outside.

An infrared signal can be either focused, as with a laser, directed, as with a television remote control, or diffuse like normal sunlight. All three of these technologies (Narrowband, DSSS and FHSS) are used in one form or another in computer networks. Focused infrared is used in building to building links. This form of infrared technology is best able to capitalise on high bandwidth capacity. Links of 10Mbits/s are common and 100Mbits/s links are also available. However, one disadvantage of focused infrared lasers is their sensitivity to atmospheric conditions. Heavy rain and fog can block a signal, and even on sunny days convection currents caused by heat from the sun can divert the beam from its target, cutting the link completely. More over all of these problems are intensified by distance [9].
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Direct Infrared Technology

Direct infrared light needs a clear line of sight to make a connection. The most familiar direct infrared communication device is the TV remote control. A connection is made by transmitting data using two different intensities of infrared light to represent the 1s and 0s. The infrared light is transmitted in a 30-degree cone giving some flexibility in orientation of the equipment, but not much. Some disadvantages exist with direct connections one of which is range, usually restricted to less then 3 meters. Also because it needs a clear line of sight, the equipment must be pointing towards the general area of the receiver or the connection is lost. However, advantages include low cost, and a high, reliable data rate.

In order to promote the use of direct infrared systems an organisation called the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) has been established. IrDA is an association of over 130 companies, including IBM, Intel and Motorola, formed to create interoperable, low cost infrared data interconnection standards. The first of these standards (IrDA 1.0) supported data rates of 115.2Kbits/s, the newer standard (IrDA 1.1) now supports higher data rates of 1.15 & 4Mbps. Today most new laptop computers come with IrDA ports as standard as well as printers and a whole range of network and access products designed to take advantage of the new technology.

What would appear to be a restrictive wireless technology is actually quite well suited to wireless LANs. The technology is ideal for creating a BSS network (ad-hoc or peer- topeer network). As most laptops already have IrDA ports, users in a meeting would simply be able to point their laptops towards each other and the network would be formed. As far as infrastructure networks go, access points do exist which allow IrDA equipped laptop computers to connect directly to the network, although restrictions in range make roaming and true mobility a little difficult.

This does not necessarily rule out the use of direct infrared technology in wireless systems. An office for example which had access points liberally spread around on
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desks and benches would allow mobile users to sit down and connect without the inconvenience of having to plug in to the network. This forgoes the advantage of mobility during use. However, how many users are likely to type when walking around anyway? In addition, when one considers the cost, typically $150 per infrared access point compared with $300 per radio network card (which still requires a radio AP retailing at $1500 plus), the systems becomes more attractive.

Despite these advantages, in order for this technology to be useful as a replacement to traditional methods of connecting to a network the infrared link would have to perform at 4Mb/s the IrDA1.1 standard [9].


Diffuse Infrared Technology

Diffuse infrared technology operates by flooding an area with infrared light, in much the same way as a conventional light bulb illuminates a room. The infrared signal bounces off the walls and ceiling so that a receiver can pick up the signal regardless of orientation. Diffuse infrared technology is a compromise between direct infrared and radio technology. It combines the advantages of high data rates from infrared and the freedom of movement from radio. However, it also inherits some disadvantages. For example, although it transmits at 4Mbits/s twice that of current radio systems, this must be shared among all users, unlike direct infrared. And although a user can roam around freely, which is an advantage over direct infrared, the signal is still confined to individual rooms unlike radio signals, which can pass through walls.

Diffuse infrared technology is still in its infancy, and consequently there are very few manufacturers of this technology. One of the few is Spectrix Corp., which was established in 1987, and mainly designed and implemented wireless LANs for trading floors. The SpectrixLiteTM system uses hemispheres mounted on walls or in ceilings to communicate with receivers which connect to portable computers using PCMCIA cards. The hemispheres are connected to a central hub that powers each hemisphere and acts as a bridge onto the wired LAN (See figure below).
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Fig. 7
Overhead Diffuse Infrared Hemispheres connected to a Network through a Hub

SpectrixLite uses a proprietary protocol called CODIAC (Centralised Operation Deterministic Interface Access Control). This protocol was tailor made to suit wireless networks and includes features, which conserve battery power, supports large numbers of users and can be tailored to various applications. The system guarantees service levels by offering different classes of data rate ranging from the lower of 1.2Kbit/s to 230.4Kbits/s and supports features of wireless LANs such as seamless roaming.

Diffuse infrared technology has begun to establish itself as a real alternative to radio in wireless LAN systems. However, lack of movement towards this technology by the large networking manufacturers (IBM for example recently abandoned it's diffuse infrared product) has meant very few systems are commercially available. Those that do exist do not show the refinement of the radio systems produced by the large manufactures. Despite these initial problems, the technology has the potential to provide very high data rates and good coverage for most applications [9].

Exploration of Wireless LAN Technology at USF

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The aim of the project is to investigate the use of wireless local area networks in our educational environment. In particular, how cost effective a wireless solution will be, will the performance be sufficient for todays needs, what are the management implications of such a system and most importantly, how will the student-users cope with a wireless network?

Another student of the Electrical Engineering department and I were given two Toshiba palmtop computers. We were to configure and network both palmtop computers using a donated PRISM evaluation kit from the Harris Corporation, and alternatively a pair of cards and an access point from Raytheon Corporation.

6.1 Configuration for Harris PRISM Peer-to-Peer Link The configuration of the palmtop computers required a PCMCIA card adapter that was included in the PRISM evaluation kit. This Adapter provides an interface between a PCMCIA-compatible computer and a wireless Ethernet network based on the IEEE 802.11 Ethernet standard. PCMCIA, which stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, is an organization that defines the international standards for computer peripherals. The Harris PRISM Wireless Ethernet Adapter is a peripheral device built to the standards set by PCMCIA, so it can be used in computers with type II, type III, and Toshiba 16mm (type IV) PCMCIA slots [10].

The Harris PRISM Wireless Ethernet Adapter can operate with or without an access point to a wired network. If an access point is not used, the device can communicate with another Harris PRISM Wireless Ethernet Adapter and will function as a peer-to-peer workgroup LAN, which is the type of WLAN that we are using with both palmtop computers. If used with an access point, the Adapter will provide access to a wired network just like a standard wired Ethernet adapter.

The Adapter has three LEDs (light-emitting diodes) on the part of the card that extends out of the PCMCIA slot. These lights may indicate power, link, and transmit state,
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depending on the driver implementation. At least one red LED will display power in most cases.

6.2 Networking for PRISM Cards

Before we could network both palmtop computers we first had to install our wireless network adapter cards software and hardware. We then needed to set the network properties to accommodate resource sharing and select the type of wireless network we want to establish. In this case a peer-to-peer network

There are two modes of operation for the PRISM Wireless Ethernet Adapter Card, Instawave and Structurenet. Instawave enables users to select a common channel. All wireless Ethernet stations, including access points, can communicate as long as they are on that common channel. Structurenet should only be used when roaming is needed. Roaming is defined as the ability to effortlessly move between access points that are on different channels. For example, with large high-traffic areas it may be necessary to have many access points, each assigned a different channel. In Structurenet mode, users can move between these access points without having to reconfigure their channel settings. Structurenet automatically redirects users to the appropriate channel with access controlled by an ESS ID. Instawave is the default mode and should accommodate most network needs.

6.3 Indoor Testing of PRISM Link After successfully configuring and networking the card adapters on both Toshiba palmtop computers, it was time to perform our indoor and outdoor testing. Note that the transmission rate for these Harris cards is 2Mbits/s. We picked an arbitrary building at the USF campus. The Center for Urban Transportation and Research (CUTR) building (See Figure 7 and 8) seemed to fit our indoor testing site since it has offices, cubicles, plenty of corridors and consisted of two floors. One of the palmtop computers, lets call it
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Computer A, stayed at position 1 while I walked downstairs and upstairs with the second palmtop computer (Computer B). We used Microsofts NetMeeting software to send and receive data. While I was randomly walking on the downstairs corridors and consistently sending and receiving data, my computer did not show any sign of poor connection. However, when I was positioned at a particular corner of the building (position 2), I could notice a difference in the data rate reception and transmission from both computers. It was slower.

When I began my way up the stairs I noticed that the green LED of the card adapter was turned off but my connection to Computer A was still on. I took a few steps down the stairs and the green LED suddenly lit up again (the connection to Computer A was reestablished). When I passed through this dead spot (position 3), I was again struck by another dead spot (position 4). As I walked through this dead stop, I realised the green LED was back on indicating a clear connection to Computer A. After covering the 2nd floors corridors, I found another dead spot at Position 5.

6.4 Outdoor Testing of PRISM Link Our outdoor testing site was also carefully selected to fit our testing needs. I picked an open field (See Appendix C) to perform this task. Again Computer A stayed in a designated place, position 1, while Computer B was to be stretched away from that position. Although the outdoor testing was more simple to perform than the indoor testing, it was also equally challenging.

While moving away, I randomly stopped (getting out of the car) to send and receive data to make sure the data transmission between both palmtops was working. Again, both palmtop computers were using Microsofts NetMeeting software to send and receive data. When I hit position 2 (995 ft), I found myself in a low data rate spot. My computer was sending and receiving data at an unusual slow rate. When walking a few feet beyond position 2 (1005 ft), I lost connection with Computer A. When I regained connection to Computer A I was about 990 feet away from Computer A.
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Testing Results

The results of our testing were very interesting and quit straightforward. The reason for Computer B to lose connection with Computer A, while performing the indoor testing, has many explanations. The most obvious one is that the signal may not be powerful enough to penetrate walls, doors and ceilings. In such cases depending on the line of site of both parties, signals can be bounced off walls and plain shaped objects. For example, when Computer B was upstairs in positions 3 and 4, the obstacles (walls, ceilings, doors etc) were just too great to overcome. This is called multi-path effects. However, when we conducted the outdoor test, the results obtained met our expectations. We already knew from the factory settings that the farthest peer-to-peer connection distance with our card adapters reached 1000 feet; which was consistent with our results. These indoor and outdoor testings were repeated to determine some kind of consistency among its criteria. The tests consisted of the same ritual and procedure as the one mentioned above and the results were the same.

Raytheon Raylink Example

The Raylink indoor and outdoor testing was very much like the indoor and outdoor testing for the Harris Prism link. Again our indoor site was the CUTR building. The same site setup was used. Computer A stayed in position 1 while Computer B was the designated computer to roam downstairs and upstairs the building. Microsoft's Netmeeting software was again used to send and receive data. The only difference between the Harris testing was that we used an Access Point (stationed at Position 1) for the Raylink indoor testing. Not surprisingly the results for the Raylink cards were very similar to those of the Harris cards.

Position 2 also verified to be a zone with poor and slow data rate reception and transmission. The stairs was another dead spot (position 3) for the Raylink cards. Finally, position 4 and 5 was also a dead spot for the Raylink cards. The only difference between the Harris and the Raylink results was that the downstairs range
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was greater for the Raylink cards than the Harris cards. We were able to stay connected to the Access Point even when Computer B was outside about 50 ft away from the CUTR building. However, the Harris cards were unable to get coverage outside the CUTR building since it was not associated with an Access Point.


Ratheon Raylink vs. Harris Prism Link

This outdoor testing was quite different from the first outdoor testing of the Harris Cards. This time not only were we interested in the coverage range, but also in the transmission rate of both the Harris and the Raylink cards.

We wanted to test the transmission speed of the Raylink cards vs. the Harris cards at different points in the open field. In order for us to do that, Computer A was stationed at a fixed point in the open field, while Computer B was to be stretched away every 30 meters (100ft) up to 300 meters (1000ft) (See Figure 10). For every 30 meters, Computer A sent Computer B a 2.25 Mb file and the download time was recorded. Using this technique we could measure the speed of the file download and gather our data. The results of both products were consistent but their data timing varied considerably. See graph below.

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PRISM vs Raylink Data Rate

1.6 1.4
Data Rate (MBps)

1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 260 300
Distance (meters)

PRISM Raylink


Wireless LAN Applications

Below are given a few examples of how Wireless LANs can be very useful and important in various fields. These examples illustrate the many uses of Wireless LANs in health care, education and research.


Health Care

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross Disaster Service operates like a huge mobile warehouse, setting up, on a moment's notice, locations for receiving and storing thousands of pallets of food, supplies and equipment, and efficiently distributing those supplies to disaster victims. These operations often take place under extreme conditions: heavy storms, power and telephone outages, continuing floods and other logistical difficulties posed by the preceding destruction. Field houses for relief operations must be swiftly set up and often moved during the course of the operation.
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When relief needs have been met, they must be shut down quickly and the equipment made ready for immediate deployment to a new disaster site. Voice and data communications are critical to the Red Cross operations and wireless solutions are a natural choice.

Prior to adopting a wireless application, the American Red Cross used paper-based inventory systems. Richard Hoffman, senior systems programmer with the American Red Cross National Headquarters, said recent disasters demonstrated the need for a highcapacity, automated system [11].

The primary requirements for the new system were mobility, reliability, ease-of-use by staff and volunteer workers, and the ability to provide six to eight hours of continuous battery operation in the event of a power failure. Secondary requirements included tight tracking of accounting and traceability records of materials and donated goods used during the operation, in order to meet IRS tracking requirements. The system tracks everything from perishables and water to equipment such as fax machines, cellular phones and tables and chairs. The system also maintains warehouse data and transmits that data to a central logistics database at the local disaster operational headquarters. (The Red Cross central logistics database enables it to provide a current inventory of all relief material on hand for the entire operation.) [11].


Education and Research

Wireless Andrew is a 2Mbit/s wireless local area network connected through access points to the wired Andrew network, a high-speed Ethernet backbone linking buildings across the Carnegie Mellon campus [12]. The combination of networks gives high-speed access to any user with a portable computer and a wireless LAN card from any building covered by access points. In addition, a low-bandwidth wide area network that covers the greater Pittsburgh area provides researchers and others with off-campus wireless access to campus networks. Campus network services include e-mail and file transfer, access to audio and image data, access to the library and other databases, and full Internet access.
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The Institute's wireless initiative not only serves the campus community by increasing high-speed access to campus networks, it also provides an infrastructure for research in wireless communication. As the university's Dr. Ben Bennington points out, "What makes us different from other wireless technology customers is that we're not implementing an application; we're implementing infrastructure, a kind of 'honey pot' to attract people to mobility research" [12].

In the area of infrastructure, Carnegie Mellon has anticipated the need for the next generation of systems to integrate wired and wireless networks by giving researchers a platform for developing and testing "middleware" - software that allows seamless access to the various wired and wireless networks which a roaming computer encounters.

As for mobility research, the system will provide a major test bed for Carnegie Mellon and its sponsors, giving researchers in many fields, inside and outside the university, a way to explore the uses of mobile computing. Programs include systems research, development of computer platforms for mobile use, compression research, and research on the human factors of mobile computing. The Institute's ongoing development is resulting in numerous innovative uses of wireless LANs, including emergency response, health care, and vehicle maintenance. One project involves communication with trains to download diagnostic data. Another involves "wearable computers" - a project for developing innovative maintenance systems that free technicians' hands while still giving them access to engineering drawings and other information. Benefits: Increased Access to Campus Networks and Creation of Leading Research Platform [12].

9 Conclusion The aim of the project is to determine if wireless local area networks can successfully address some of the needs of an ever-demanding educational environment. An increase in the number of students coupled with the increase in the use of network resources

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has created pressure on current networking practices and technology. The provision of fuss free access to the network while maintaining flexibility is proving increasing difficult. For wireless networking to offer a solution it must satisfy several criteria. In particular, how cost effective a wireless solution might be, will the performance be sufficient for todays needs, what are the management implications and most importantly, how the users cope with the wireless network. Addressing each of these issues

individually, I hope to prove that in the right environment, given the right situation, a wireless network can be a viable choice for individual departments throughout the education sector. The future of WLANs looks promising, as the technology advances and new ISM bands, such as the U-NII band, are made available more and more users will be able to take advantage of wireless networking. In the educational environment the technology becomes more sophisticated but at the same time more affordable. It is easy to imagine a situation were a classroom of students are able to access networked resources over a seamless wireless data network.

9.1 Cost in Context of Educational Application Cost is always an issue, in educational institutions as the traditional sources of income decreases and student expectations rise. If you compare the cost of a wireless network card with that of the wired variety then the cost benefits can seem difficult to justify. However situations do exist where wireless networks are not only cheaper but can return on the investment by increasing productivity and reducing management costs.

A study conducted in Oct 1998 by Tech Research [13] has shown that the average time to fully payback the initial costs of a wireless LAN installation was 8.9 months. The study was commissioned by the Wireless LAN Alliance and was based on interviews with 34 companies actively using wireless technology.

The typical environments where a wireless installation may be used are situations where a network is required in a building or a temporary installation such as an exhibition. It is easy to see how a wireless network in such environments could bring cost savings, however it is far more difficult to quantify such savings. One situation
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that is applicable to the education sector and possibly to cost is, for example, a student study bedroom. The major cost involved in providing such a service, without using a WLAN, is the initial cabling cost. Based on the assumption of $60 per connection, a typical accommodation block of 100 rooms would cost over $6000 to cable. Add to this the cost of hubs or switches and network cards, and the cost increases [13].

9.2 Performance Performance of wireless LAN systems cannot currently compete with wired LANs. It looks likely to fall further behind since although wireless technology improves, wired capabilities continue to improve exponentially. Wired LANs have up to 100Mbit/s of data rate as opposed to a Wireless LANs which have up to 11Mbits/s of data rate.

Despite these concerns wireless LANs can play a very valuable role in a classroom or a college as a whole. More and more users are using email and browsing the web and for these types of applications wireless networks are ideal. The wider issue of life expectancy of wireless installations could be addressed by improving technologies which are always being researched and produced. As bandwidth increases the applications that the system can support will increase and the overall usefulness will improve as well as performance with multiple users logged on a network at the same time . New technologies are already beginning to be available. Wireless LAN systems of 11Mbits/s are being produced and point to point links of 100Mbits/s have been around for some time. I can confidently say then that with our current technology the performance of wireless LANs need not be an issue if the uses are properly considered before a wireless network is installed. As the technology improves these problems will prove less restricting.


Future of WLANs

Wireless data networks have been with us, in one shape or another for over ten years. Only in the last four years however, have they become noticed in the wider market

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place and as a result of this, become more common. They are beginning to move from the specialised vertical markets to the broader and more profitable mass markets of local area networks. One case, which would support this trend, is the recent acquisition of Netwave by BayNortel. BayNortel, a large and well-established network equipment manufacturer has realised the growth potential in the wireless network market. Perhaps the biggest contributing factors to this trend have been the ratification of wireless network standards and the availability of the ISM band.



The IEEE 802.11 standard [3] was ratified on June 27 1997, having taken seven years to reach ratification. Products conforming to the standard began to become available in early 1998. The intention of the IEEE 802.11 standard, as with all standards, was to ensure compatibility between manufacturers. The major benefit of the standard is to reduce the cost of products, by competition, and to protect the investment in infrastructure, by allowing different products to work with existing equipment. Since the ratification of the standard, interoperability tests have been conducted at the University of New Hampshire, in a laboratory specially set up for that purpose. The standard describes three physical (PHY) layers and a single media access control (MAC) layer. The three PHY layers being FHSS, DSSS and infrared. However, no interoperability was found between Harris' and Raylink's cards and Harris' cards with Raylink's AP. Critics of the standard however, have highlighted that although vendors have demonstrated the ability to transfer data packets from one product to another, the lack of a description of how access points should communicate with one another means that a network constructed of different manufacturers APs would probably not work. This criticism aside, the standard has been adopted by all the major wireless LAN manufacturers, all of which now produce products that conform to the standard. As the products and the standards mature, solutions will be found to the problems which are still present and more robust and cheaper products will become available.

As mentioned above the other major factor in increasing the availability of wireless LAN products has been the introduction of the ISM band. The intention of the ISM
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band was to provide unlicensed, unregulated frequency ranges, which anyone could use, for any purpose. The only stipulation being that any device using an ISM band would have to co-exist with other devices and could therefore not use narrow band transmissions. The first country to introduce an ISM band was the United States. The regulatory body in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), set aside the 902-928MHz range. The availability of inexpensive semiconductor technology developed for cellular communications soon meant that a wide variety of products such as cordless phones soon became available, crowding the ISM band. A second ISM band was made available by the FCC, 2.40-2.483GHz. The European Telecommunications Standard Institute and other national bodies who are members of the International Telecommunications Union also adopted this range. It is this band which the 802.11 standard uses and allowed the development of high-speed wireless networks.

Like the 900MHz ISM band, history could be poised to repeat itself. As more and more applications using the ISM band become available the range will become crowded and devices using the band will suffer from interference. One such existing source of interference is microwave ovens. To meet the increased demands of the communications industry and to resolve the issues faced by the 900MHz and the 2.4GHz bands, the FCC has created a third band known as the Unlicensed-National Information Infrastructure (UNII) band. Set in the 5.775-5.850GHz range, the band is intended solely for the transmission of computer data and will therefore be protected against interference from products in the consumer market. The band also promises to yield greater performance in the region of 10Mbits/s and higher.

10.2 Bluetooth In addition to the 802.11 standard, other standards are currently in the process of being developed. One such standard is the open specification known as Bluetooth. Proposed by industry leaders Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba they have set up the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The aim of the SIG is to produce an open standard to allow personal and business mobile devices





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another and enable seamless transmission of voice and data using short-range radio links. The five companies hope to pool their expertise to create the specification. Ericsson and Nokia are to contribute their knowledge of radio transmission and mobile handset software, Toshiba and IBM are developing a common specification for integrating Bluetooth technology into mobile devices and Intel is contributing its advanced chip and software expertise. The typical scenario of Bluetooth usage would be a portable computer using a mobile phone to gain access to the Internet while the phone is still in the users pocket, the two devices communicating by a short range radio link. Several key characteristics of the specification are the range, (less then 10m), the power consumption levels, (less then 30mA) and the adoption of a FHSS transmission method. With the backing of such well-respected multinational companies, the Bluetooth specification stands a high probability of becoming a well-established and utilized specification for the future. Unfortunately no provisions for making the Bluetooth specification and the 802.11 standard interoperable or compatible have been made. In fact, tests carried out by the IEEE 802.11 working group have shown that a simulation of a Bluetooth network operating in the vicinity of an 802.11 DSSS network can reduce the performance of the DSSS network by 45% even under the most optimistic assumptions.

10.3 Other Projects As mentioned earlier, the IEEE 802.11 Working Group has set up a study group to develop the standard in order to take advantage of some of the advancements being made in research and development. Current projects under review include methods of achieving higher speeds in the current 2.4 GHz band and new systems that operate in the higher 5 GHz band, which hope to yield improved performance. In addition to these, products are becoming available which use Quadrant Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) and Quadrant Amplitude Modulation (QAM). These methods, already used in modem technology, allow a greater number of binary combinations to be represented by a single signal increasing system performance. Speeds of 3.2Mbits/s are capable, compared to 2Mbits/s with conventional techniques [14].

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Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networks are rapidly becoming an important area of network technology. The major ATM standards bodies have yet to define any standards for wireless ATM. Despite this, Industry and Education have undertaken several projects. Two such projects are WAND (Wireless ATM Network Demonstrator) which aims to develop a 20Mbit/s ATM wireless interface in the 17 GHz frequency and MEDIAN (Wireless Broadband CPN/LAN for Professional and Residential Multimedia Applications) which operates at 155Mbit/s in the 60 GHz band [15].

British Telecom (BT) is a large investor in research and development and has done considerable work in wireless communication. They have developed a new type of access point that they have named the passive picocell. The picocell is connected to a device that emits radio waves that can be used to communicate data over a network; the picocell is connected back to a central network server using fibre optic cables, which carry the radio waves on a carrier pulse of light. This feat is achieved using an alloy based on indium phosphide that translates radio waves into light and vice versa. The unit has several advantages, namely that no DC power is required and the units are small, inexpensive and maintenance free. The units could cost as little as 35 each and the technology should be commercially available by 2005 [16].

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Figure 8: CUTR Building 1st Floor

Position 2 W.C.

Main Entrance

Front Desk

Position 1 Computer A GIS Lab

Work Room


Private Offices Stairs

Office Lounge

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Figure 9: CUTR Building 2nd Floor


Position 5 Main Entrance

Floor Above the GIS Lab Position 4

Work Room Position 3 Restrooms

Private Offices Stairs

Office Lounge

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Figure 10: Outdoor Open Field Test Site

1000 ft

Computer A Position 1

Computer B Position 2

250 ft


30 m

60 m

90 m

120 m

150 m

180 m

210 m

240 m

270 m

300 m

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[1] J.O'Dwyer (Dataquest Inc.), PC Quarterly Statistics European Overview 1996 [2] B.Egan (Digital Corp), Wireless Data Communications 1995

[3] IEEE 802.11 Working Group for Wireless Local Area Networks "" [4] RACOTEK Inc., Wireless Data Security 1996, "" [5] Narrowband Technology, [6] Raytheon Wireless Solutions, Frequency Hopping vs. Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Techniques, [7] C.Huang and R.Khayata, Delay Spread and Channel Dynamics Measurement at ISM Bands 1992 [8] Raytheon Wireless Solutions, IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN Standard, [9] Wireless Research Group, [10] Harris Prism Radio Chip Set, "Wireless Ethernet Adapter Card Installation Manual", Sec 1.1, 1999 [11] Health Care, [12] Wireless Andrew, [13] Wireless LAN ROI/Cost Benefit Study "" [14] WaveAccess Wireless Communications, Jaguar PC132 Wireless LAN Adapter 1997 [15] J.Mikkonen, "Wireless ATM Overview" "" [16] M.Hamer (New Scientist), The Box That Banished Office Wiring Jun 1997 Additional References not Specifically Cited R.P.WENIG, J.C.MOGUL, Wireless LANs, Pub. AP Professional, 1996 IP Network Performance, in Internet Systems Handbook, Lynch, D.C and Rose, M.T (eds.), Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993 Computer Networks 3rd Ed, Pub. Prentice Hall,1996


The Evolution of Personal Communications, IEEE Commun. Magazine, vol. 1, No. 2 1994 Medium Access Control of Wireless LANs for Mobile Computing IEEE Network Magazine Sep/Oct 1994, vol. 8, No. 5 Wireless Data Communications Pub. Digital Equipment Corp. 1995 Radio Frequency allocations in the United States Spectrum Guide 3rd Ed, Pub. Falls Church, 1996

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# 802.11 The medium access control and physical characteristics for wireless local area networks are specified in this standard. The medium access control unit in this standard is designed to support physical layer units as they may be adopted dependent on the availability of spectrum. This standard contains three physical layer units: two radio units, both operating in the 2400-2500 MHz band, and one baseband infrared unit. One radio unit employs the frequency-hopping spread spectrum technique, and the other employs the direct sequence spread spectrum technique. A Access Point An internetworking device that seamlessly connects wired and wireless networks together. This device also transports data between a wireless network and a wired network (infrastructure). Address An address is a unique identification code that is assigned to a network device so it may independently send and receive messages. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) Within TCP/IP, ARP is the protocol that determines whether a packet's source and destination addresses are in the Data-Link Control (DLC) or Internet Protocol (IP) format. ARP is necessary for proper packet routing on a TCP/IP network.

B Bandwidth The size (in Hertz) of the frequency range that a signal transmission occupies. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted over a channel, measured in bits per second. For example, Ethernet has a 10Mbps bandwidth and FDDI has a 100Mbps bandwidth. Bridge A bridge connects two networks of the same access method, for example, Ethernet to Ethernet or Token Ring to Token Ring. A bridge works at the OSI's Media Access layer, and is transparent to upper-layer devices and protocols. Bridges operate by filtering packets according to their destination addresses. Most bridges automatically learn where these addresses are located, and are thus called learning bridges. Broadcast A broadcast message is addressed to all stations on a network.
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C Card Information A data structure written on every card Structure (CIS) that complies with the PCMCIA standard, containing information about the formatting and organization of the data on the card. Card Services A software program that coordinates PCMCIA card access to sockets and system resources, including device drivers, utilities, and application programs. Card Services assigns the I/O Base Address, Interrupt Request Level, and the CIS Memory Base Address for the PCMCIA adapter. Carrier Sense, Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Ethernet and 802.3 LANs use the CSMA/CD access method. In CSMA/CD, each network device waits for a time when the network is not busy before transmitting and it detects transmissions already on the wire that were put there by other stations. Cell An area of coverage provided by an access point. Also called microcell. Channel Specifies the default (802.11) channel. See the table of channels in the specifications. D Desired ESS ID. See ESS ID. Direct Sequence Direct-sequence devices replicate one bit of data 11 times and send it over one-third of the spectrum range at once. Receiving devices process the bit once and discard repeated transmissions. This method provides a higher delivery guarantee, but multiple access points can interfere with one another more easily because they have a choice of only three places in the spectrum from which to transmit. Direct sequence can provide a stronger signal than frequency hopping, potentially supporting higher speeds, but it also requires more power to transmit, limiting the time a portable device can operate before it needs to be charged. This method does not limit throughput as Frequency Hopping does. Driver A program, usually resident in server or workstation memory, that controls the adapter or implements the protocol stacks that allow higher-level applications to communicate with the network hardware.

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E Electromagnetic Interference/Radio Frequency Interference (EMI/RFI) EMI and RFI are forms noise on data transmission lines that reduces data integrity. Motors, machines, and other generators of electromagnetic radiation cause EMI. RFI is caused by radio waves. ESS ID This is a user-defined string that is used by the driver to limit communication on the same channel. This must be the same for all computers you wish to communicate with. Ethernet Ethernet is a 10Mbps CSMA/CD network that runs over thick coax, thin coax, twistedpair, and fiber-optic cable. A thick coax Ethernet uses a bus topology. A thin coax Ethernet uses a daisy chain topology. Twisted-pair Ethernet uses a star topology. A fiber Ethernet is point-to-point. DIX or Blue Book Ethernet is the name of the Digital Equipment Corp., Intel, and Xerox specification; 802.3 is the IEEE's specification; 8802/3 is the ISO's specification. F File Transfer Protocol (FTP) FTP is the TCP/IP protocol for file transfer. Frequency Hopping In frequency hopping, devices send one small piece of data at a time over 1MHz of the spectrum, hopping to a different 1MHz portion before sending the next bit. All devices associated with one access point are programmed to hop in synch. Multiple access points can operate within the same area because they have different hop synchronizations and therefore will not interfere with one another's communications. This spread spectrum method limits users to less than 2Mbps throughput, unlike Direct Sequence. G Gateway In OSI terminology, a gateway is a hardware and software device that connects two dissimilar systems, such as a LAN and a mainframe. It operates at the fourth through the seventh layers of the OSI model. In Internet terminology, a gateway is another name for a router. H Hub A concentrator is a multiport repeater or hub that brings together the connections from multiple network nodes. Concentrators have moved past their origins as wire concentration centers, and often house bridges, routers, and network-management devices.
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I Impedance Impedance is the resistance equivalent for AC, and it affects a network's propagation delay and attenuation. Each protocol and topology has its own impedance standards. For example, 10BaseT has an impedance of 100 ohms to 105 ohms, while 10Base2 has an impedance of 50 ohms. Independent network A network that provides (usually temporarily) peer-to-peer connectivity without relying on a complete network infrastructure. Infrastructure network A wireless network centered about an access point. In this environment, the access point not only provides communication with the wired network but also mediates wireless network traffic in the immediate neighborhood. Infrared Infrared electromagnetic waves are above that of microwaves but below the visible spectrum. Infrared is used for some wireless LANs and peripheral communication. Input/Output (I/O) The method, medium, or device (such as a keyboard, monitor, floppy disk, hard disk, network adapter, or printer) used to transfer data to a computing system or from the computing system back to a device, a network, etc. Interference A situation that occurs when an unwanted RF signal occupies the same frequency band as a desired signal. Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) The IEEE is a professional society of electrical engineers. One of its functions is to coordinate, develop, and publish data communications standards for use in the United States. International Standards Organization (ISO) ISO is a multinational standards-setting organization that formulates computer and communication standards, among others. ISO defined the OSI reference model, which divides computer communications into seven layers: physical, data-link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application. Internet The Internet is a collection of more than 2,000 packet-switched networks located principally in the United States, but also in other parts of the world, all linked using the TCP/IP protocol. It links many university, government, and research sites.
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Internet Protocol (IP) IP is part of the TCP/IP suite. It is a session-layer protocol that governs packet forwarding. Internetwork An internetwork is collection of several networks that are connected by bridges and routers so all users and devices can communicate with each other, regardless of the network segment to which they are attached. Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) IPX is the part of Novell's NetWare stack that governs packet forwarding. This transport protocol is based on Xerox Network System. Interoperability Interoperability is the ability of one manufacturer's computer equipment to operate alongside, communicate with, and exchange information with another vendor's dissimilar computer equipment. Isochronous Transmission An isochronous service transmits asynchronous data over a synchronous data link. An isochronous service must be able to deliver bandwidth at specific, regular intervals. It is required when time-dependent data, such as video or voice, is to be transmitted. For example, Asynchronous Transfer Mode can provide isochronous service. L Local Area Network (LAN) A LAN is a group of computers, each equipped with the appropriate network adapter card and software and connected by cable, that share applications, data, and peripherals. All connections are made via cable or wireless media, but a LAN does not use telephone services. It typically spans a single building or campus. M Management Information Base (MIB) A MIB is a repository or database of the characteristics and parameters that are managed in a device. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Common Management Information Protocol (CMIP) use MIBs to contain the attributes of their managed systems. Max Frame Size This can be any valid (802.11) packet size up to a maximum of 1600. Media Access Control (MAC) The MAC is the lower sublayer of the data-link layer (Logical Link Control is the upper sublayer), and it governs access to the transmission media.

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Microcell A bounded physical space in which a number of wireless devices can communicate. Because it is possible to have overlapping cells as well as isolated cells, the boundaries of the cell are established by some rule or convention. Multicast Multicast packets are single packets that are copied to a specific subset of network addresses. In contrast, broadcast packets are sent to all stations in a network. Multipath The signal variation caused when radio signals take multiple paths from transmitter to receiver. Multiplexing Multiplexing is putting multiple signals on a single channel.

N NetBIOS NetBIOS is a protocol developed by IBM that governs data exchange and network access. Because NetBIOS lacks a network-layer, it cannot be routed in a network, which makes building large internetworks of NetBIOS-based networks difficult. Examples of NetBIOS-based NOSs include IBM LAN Server and Artisoft LANtastic. NetBEUI Microsoft's version of NetBIOS is called NetBEUI. It is a protocol that governs data exchange and network access. Because NetBEUI lacks a network-layer, it cannot be routed in a network, which makes building large internetworks of NetBEUI-based networks difficult. Network A network is a system of computers, hardware, and software that is connected over which data, files, and messages can be transmitted and end users communicate. Networks may be local or wide area. NDIS Network Driver Interface Specification, developed by Microsoft and 3Com. A software specification used in network operating systems, such as IBM LAN Server or Microsoft LAN Manager, to create drivers for network adapters. NDIS drivers support multiple protocols and multiple adapters and can be unloaded from memory to conserve conventional DOS RAM space.

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Network Interface Card (NIC) A network interface card is the adapter card that plugs into computers and includes the electronics and software so the station can communicate over the network. Noise Noise is sporadic, irregular or multifrequency electrical signals that are superimposed on the desired signal. O ODI Open Data-Link Interface. A MAC-level specification developed by Novell and Apple. Drivers complying with this specification can work with NetWare 2.x, NetWare 3.x, and NetWare 4.x. Like NDIS, the ODI driver supports multiple protocols and adapters, and can be unloaded from memory to conserve conventional DOS RAM space. Open Systems In open systems, no single manufacturer controls the specifications for the architecture. The specifications are in the public domain, and developers can legally write to them. Open systems are crucial for interoperability. 802.11 is an open system. Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) The OSI model is the seven-layer, modular protocol stack defined by ISO for data communications between computers. Its layers are: Physical, Data Link, Network, Transport, Session, Presentation, and Application.

P Packet The unit of information transmitted over the network, consisting of a preamble, a destination address, a source address, the data being transmitted, and a code that allows testing for correct transmission. PCMCIA Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Also used to refer to a physical device now refereed to as a PC Card. Peer-to-Peer In a peer-to-peer architecture, two or more nodes can directly initiate communication with each other; they do not need an intermediary. A device can be both the client and the server. Propagation Delay Propagation delay is the time it takes for one bit to travel across the network from its transmission point to its destination.

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Protocol A protocol is a standardized set of rules that specify how a conversation is to take place, including the format, timing, sequencing and/or error checking. R Radio Frequency (RF) Terms: GHz, MHz, Hz The international unit for measuring frequency is Hertz (Hz), which is equivalent to the older unit of cycles per second. One Mega-Hertz (MHz) is one million Hertz. One GigaHertz (GHz) is one billion Hertz. For reference: the standard US electrical power frequency is 60 Hz, the AM broadcast radio frequency band is 0.55 -1.6 MHz, the FM broadcast radio frequency band is 88-108 MHz, and microwave ovens typically operate at 2.45 GHz. Repeater A repeater is a Physical-Layer device that regenerates, retimes, and amplifies electrical signals. Request For Comment (RFC) An RFC is the Internet's notation for draft, experimental, and final standards. Roaming Movement of a wireless node between two microcells. Roaming usually occurs in infrastructure networks built around multiple access points. Router A router is a network-layer device that connects networks using the same Network-Layer protocol, for example TCP/IP or IPX. A router uses a standardized protocol, such as RIP, to move packets efficiently to their destination over an internetwork. A router provides greater control over paths and greater security than a bridge; however, it is more difficult to set up and maintain.

S Server A server is a computer that provides shared resources to network users. A server typically has greater CPU power, number of CPUs, memory, cache, disk storage, and power supplies than a computer that is used as a single-user workstation. Sequential Packet Exchange (SPX) SPX is Novell's protocol for the transmission of data in sequence.
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Session A session is a communications connection between two nodes. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) SNMP is a request-response type protocol that gathers management information from network devices. SNMP is a de facto standard protocol for network management. Two versions exist: SNMP 1 and 2. It provides a means to monitor and set configuration parameters. Socket In the PCMCIA environment, the hardware in the host computer where the PC card is placed. The socket maps the hosts internal bus signals to the PCMCIA interface signals. Socket Services The software layer that provides a standardized interface to manipulate PC cards, sockets, etc. It is directly above the hardware. Spread Spectrum A radio data transmission modulation technique by which the transmitted signal is spread over a bandwidth wider than the information bandwidth. Spread Spectrum bands are designated by the FCC and require no user license. T Telnet Telnet is the TCP/IP protocol for terminal emulation. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) TCP/IP is the protocol suite developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). It is widely used in corporate internetworks, because of its superior design for WANs. TCP governs how packets are sequenced for transmission on the network. IP provides a connectionless datagram service. The term ``TCP/IP'' is often used to generically refer to the entire suite of related protocols.

U User Datagram Protocol (UDP) UDP is the connectionless transport protocol within the TCP/IP suite. Because it does not add overhead, as the connection-oriented TCP does, UDP is typically used with networkmanagement applications and SNMP.

Department of Electrical Engineering


W Wide Area Network (WAN) A WAN consists of multiple LANs that are tied together via telephone services and/or fiber optic cabling. WANs may span a city, state, a country, or even the world. Wireless LANs (WLAN) A wireless LAN does not use cable to transmit signals, but rather uses radio or infrared to transmit packets through the air. Radio frequency (RF) and infrared are the commonly used types of wireless transmission used. Spread spectrum is used to access the lowfrequency RF in the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band. Most wireless LANs use spread spectrum. It offers limited bandwidth, usually under 4Mbps, and users share the bandwidth with other devices in the spectrum; however, users can operate a spread spectrum device without licensing from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Wireless Node A user computer with a wireless network interface card (adapter).

Department of Electrical Engineering