The Barnes & Noble Review
Wireless: suddenly, it's everywhere. If you want to understand it, really understand it, without getting an engineering degree, check out The Essential Guide to Wireless Communications Applications.
In this book, Network magazine editor Andy Dornan walks you through all the wireless applications and standards that matter, from WAP to high-speed 3G, PCS to Bluetooth and beyond. You'll learn what's real now, what might be real in a year, and what's going to stay hype for a long time to come.
What are all these cell phone "generations"? (2-1/2 G? 4G?) How does wireless data work now, and what's on the horizon? What can the wireless web do -- and what can't it do? What are the most promising M-Commerce applications, and what business and technical issues will have to be resolved before M-Commerce takes off? Will the device of choice be a phone, a Palm, or what? Dornan explains -- concisely, in English.
This is a perfect book for folks who make wireless buying (or investing) decisions, folks who do marketing or PR for wireless and telecom companies -- and for millions of wireless power users who just can't wait to see what's next.
Bill Camarda is a consultant and writer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.
A guide to next-generation wireless applications and their business impact, written for nontechnical professionals. Contains chapters on the wireless world, the radio spectrum, cellular networks, PCS standards, third-generation standards, mobile data services, M- commerce, inside a mobile network, short-range wireless networks, future phone/computers, fixed wireless technology, and the Internet in space. Includes a glossary. Dornan is senior editor specializing in wireless technology at magazine. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read an Excerpt
5: Third-Generation Standards
Third-generation (3G) systems are critical to the wireless Internet services
often touted as the future of mobile communications. At first, they will
offer permanent access to the Web, interactive video, and voice quality that
sounds more like a CD player than a cellphone. Many of their future applications
are as yet unknown, with industry pundits saying that we will discover
them as we go along.
The term 3G has become rather vague, but it was originally quite specifically
defined as any standard that provided mobile users with the performance
of ISDN or better—at least 144 kbps. Some of the earlier 2 1 /2G
standards, such as GPRS and IS-95b, might be able to do this, but only under
optimal conditions. Third-generation systems need to provide ISDN
speeds for everyone, not just for people equipped with the most expensive
terminals and standing next to a base station.
Technologically, the increased capacity is found in part by using extra
spectrum and in part by new modulation techniques that squeeze higher
data rates from a given waveband. At the very lowest level, this new modulation
works by abandoning computing's traditional binary system and replacing
it with a system such as octal, which allows every symbol to have
eight values instead of only two. They also tend to be based on CDMA
rather than TDMA because of its better ability to cope with new users.
The arguments over 3G are a continuation of the earlier battles between
PCS systems. Vendors, operators, and regulators all accept that the
move towards higher data rates and better services will be evolutionary, as
illustrated in Figure 5.1. Standards have to be backward compatible with
their predecessors so that phones can maintain a connection while moving
between cells based on the old and the new.
Europe has defined a type of CDMA that will work with GSM, which
may or may not be compatible with a system already being built by Japan.
Elsewhere, cdmaOne supporters are split between several types known collectively
as cdma2000, none of which will interwork with the Japanese or
European standard. In America, D-AMPS and GSM operators want to stick
with TDMA. The result is a "federal standard," more accurately described
as a fudge. Global roaming will only be possible with special multimode
Third-generation systems were first planned in 1992, when the ITU realized
that mobile communications was playing an increasingly important
role. An international study group predicted that mobile phones would rival
fixed lines within ten years, a prediction that came true somewhat earlier in
some countries. It began work on a project called FPLMTS (Future Public
Land Mobile Telecommunications System), aiming to unite the world under
a single standard.
The acronym was awkward even compared to other telecom jargon, so
the ITU soon adopted the (slightly) friendlier name IMT-2000. IMT stands
for International Mobile Telecommunications, and the number 2000 had
three meanings. It was supposed to represent:
None of these aspirations were fulfilled entirely, but the name has
stuck. Though prototypes were built in 1999, the "phones" were the size of
a truck, and widespread commercial service is not expected before 2003.
The target data rate is achievable, but only under optimal conditions.
- The year 2000, when the ITU hoped the system would become
- Data rates of 2000 kbps
- Frequencies in the 2000 MHz region, which the ITU wanted to
make globally available for the new technology
Perhaps most important, not every country handed over the ITU's requested
frequencies. Europe and many Asian countries did, but the U.S. has
made no spectrum at all available for IMT-2000. The technology is still relevant
to American operators, who will deploy it in place of their existing
networks, but the lack of new bandwidth may entrench the U.S.'s backward
position in mobile communications.
MORE THAN MOBILE?
With the more general moniker came a more general set of requirements.
While FPLMTS just dealt with mobile phones and mobile data, IMT-2000
was supposed to encompass everything in the wireless Universe:
The theory was that by basing all types of wireless services on a single
radio system, many people would need to carry only one device—
they could use their home cordless phone as a mobile, or even to make
calls via satellite from the middle of the ocean. The industry would also
save money, because components developed for one type of technology
could easily be used for another.
- IMT-2000 wireless LANs (Local Area Networks) would give
users even higher data rates when they were inside their
own office or home.
- IMT-2000 satellites would allow people to access basic voice
and low-rate data services from literally anywhere on Earth,
even when they moved outside an area covered by the cellular
network. These are sometimes called MSS (Mobile Satellite
Service) or GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communications
- IMT-2000 fixed wireless networks would bring telecommunications
to poorer countries for the first time, providing a
cheaper and faster alternative to laying landlines.
Most of this vision had been abandoned by 1999, when vendors
built the first prototype IMT-2000 equipment. Fixed wireless systems
work best at much higher frequencies than mobiles, while satellite
phones are more expensive and much bulkier than most people are prepared
to carry around. Wireless LANs are still mandated in some official
standards, but they too seem unlikely to be implemented. IMT-2000 has
effectively reverted to FPLMT's original aim—a cellular network for highspeed
The ITU's original definition of IMT-2000 concerned only the data rate.
Three different rates were suggested, each corresponding to a different type
of ISDN, then the standard for carriers' core voice networks.
These recommendations, shown in Figure 5.2, were made back in
1992, when the Internet was still not widely known outside of academic
and technical circles. Politicians talked vaguely of an "information super-highway,"
but no one knew what form it would take. IMT-2000 was supposed
to form the mobile part of this highway, complementing the
interactive TV that it was assumed would reach people through cables in
- 144 kbps was the absolute minimum acceptable capacity. It is the
same speed as a B-rate ISDN line, the type that can be deployed
over ordinary telephone wires. B-rate ISDN makes up a large proportion
of regular phone lines in some European countries, especially
Germany. It is also marketed as a high-speed fixed Internet
access technology in areas where DSL and fiber have yet to arrive.
- 384 kbps was the ideal capacity, which the system should aim
for. It corresponds to an H-rate ISDN channel, often used for vid-eoconferencing.
Though video is possible at much slower speeds,
this was considered the minimum necessary for picture quality
approaching that of television.
- 2 Mbps was the capacity that should be achievable inside a building.
It corresponds to a European P-rate ISDN line, which is usually
a fiber-optic cable carrying up to 30 separate phone lines into
an office switchboard. The idea was that small picocells could be
set up in public areas, such as on trains or in airport departure
lounges, giving people access to very high data rates.
As the Internet hit the public and commercial consciousness, the ITU
realized that Net surfing would become one of IMT-2000's most important
uses. This entailed an additional requirement: that it support the Internet
protocols and be based on a packet-switched network backbone. The previously
set data rates remained, but circuit-switched ISDN itself was abandoned....