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Chapter 1: Wireless Broadband Networks FundamentalsThe last 25 years have seen an explosion in wireless broadband communications and computer technology. The last 5 years have seen the explosion of the Internet. Standing at the center of this convergence is the wireless broadband networks industry
Wireless broadband networks are defined as communication without wires over distance by the use of arbitrary codes and increased bandwidth. Primitive examples include waving lanterns by night or sending smoke signals. Modern examples include hand-held devices such as pagers, "smart" phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and personal communication services (PCS) using wireless broadband modems or satellites to enable wireless broadband data communications.
So welcome to the revolution in communications! Today, many communication companies (Hughes Spaceway, AT&T Wireless, CAI Wireless, MaxLink, NextLink, WavePhone, WinStar, Skybridge, Skystation, Teledisc, etc., to name a few) are starting to provide high-speed bandwidth-on-demand satellite communications and changing the way the world communicates. From high-speed Internet access, to corporate intranets, to virtual private networks, to multimedia broadcasting and high-speed data delivery, these companies will lead the new generation of broadband delivery systems.
NOTE The corporate landscape will continue to evolve and change, and the big players of today will be joined by others in the future.
While the technologies, protocols, and network infrastructure supporting wireless broadband are often complex, most data applications can be simply divided into three main types: bursty, query-response, and batch files. Bursty data refers to quick bursts of data sent from point to point. Emerging applications in this area include remote electric power meter readings, wireless broadband burglar alarms, and other remote sensing applications. Queryresponse lies at the heart of new wireless broadband applications and devices that allow for wireless broadband e-mail and Internet access.
NOTE Batch files are files that contain a sequence, or batch, of commands. Batch files are useful for storing sets of commands that are always executed together because you can simply enter the name of the batch file instead of entering each command individually.
Nevertheless, while the customer usually sees seamless and reliable service, behind the curtain, the wireless broadband networks industry is still working out the kinks in developing and building data transmission networks and agreeing on standards and protocols. There is more than one competing vision. In the end, many experts believe that the growing market for wireless broadband networks will support multiple networks and protocols and faster speeds. Current revenue forecasts/projections for the wireless broadband networks market predict strong industry growth. According to the following sources, the wireless marketplace is exploding. Frost & Sullivan. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for wireless broadband from 2000 through 2007 is projected to be 46 percent. The market is expected to grow to 10 times its current value and reach close to $11.4 billion by the year 2006. Yankee Group. The Yankee Group projects that more than 5 million wireless broadband intelligent terminals (WBITs) will be sold in the year 2004. This total will comprise almost 8 percent of total wireless broadband terminal sales that year. Gartner Group. The opportunity for wireless broadband communication in the United States is huge. Growth will be slow and steady, with 69.7 million of the 156.5 million workforce having a mobile job requirement. The Strategis Group. Five and one-half million wireless broadband subscribers exist in 2000. The market is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of over 40 percent through 2005. Oaum (UK). By the end of the year 2004, there will be over 30 million users of data over Global Systems for Mobile (GSM) communications in western Europe, rising from a current installed base of around 3 million. In the United Kingdom, there will be 9 million users of data over GSM services by 2004, rising from the current installed base of around 900,000. GSM is a TDMA-based standard used in many parts of the world and the de facto standard in Europe. GSM is used and promoted by Wireless Data Forum (WDF) member companies such as Wireless Data Services. It incorporates telephony, two-way radio, short messaging, and paging, all in a single handset. Overall, according to Killen & Associates, current estimates of the potential of the wireless broadband networks industry range as high as $37.5 billion in revenues for the year 2002 for wireless broadband Internet applications alone. The Wireless Data Index, now under development by the WDF, will track these statistics and trends more completely/accurately in the months to come. On the other hand, according to the latest results from The Strategis Group, the broadband wireless access (BWA) markets are on the verge of tremendous growth (see sidebar, "Broadband Wireless Access Made Simple"). Demand is high, and supply is growing...