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A Story Problem: What allows users to connect to the internet without using wires?
Technology: Learn how this technology works.
Application: Wireless networking can be used for file and resource sharing on  PAN's, LAN's, and WAN's.
Concerns: Understand the health concerns and security risks.
Feasibility: How practical is this technology? Will the average person ever use it?
Bibliography: Want More Information? Follow these great links.

The Author: Nicholas I Ward
Nicholas Ward holds a BA in Communication. He has worked at Radio Shack since 1996 offering networking solutions as they have evolved on the consumer market. 

 
Feasibility

Competition | Cost | Availability

So far the industry seems be settling into the IEEE standard, 802.11b.  The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) has introduced their WIFI standard (Wireless Fidelity) for a range of wireless networking products. These products are easy to use and provide speeds up to 10mbs but are limited to 500 feet.

List of WIFI certified Products

The cellular phone companies already have a larger network in place throughout major cities.  As they upgrade their towers to 3G (third generation networks), cellular users will enjoy features similar to that of other wireless networks built into their mobile phones. However, 3G networks only offer speeds up to 70kbs, about twice that of a 56k modem. 

The 802.11b transmitters are considerably faster than 3G but with less range.  They are also easier to install than a cellular tower, require no license, and can be maintained by the consumer.

Cost | Competition | Availability

Wireless access point from LinksysA Wireless access points and network adapters with a 300 ft. range are continuing to come down in price.  Linksys has an access point available for $150 with adapters around $100.

Both Palm and the Compaq Ipag handheld PDA’s allow users to connect to the Internet with wireless modems through cellular networks.  Sprint PCS offers a Samsung & Palm hybrid phone for about $500.

Compaq Ipaq handheld PDA

Availability | Competition | Cost

While availability is still very limited for wide area networks, personal and local area networks are expanding at the consumer level.  Several "neighbors" have setup short range wireless access points all over the island of Hawaii.  Users can access the Internet while sitting on the beach.
More Info...

Starbucks Coffee will allow its patrons to connect to the Internet at each of its 4000 locations.  Coffee drinkers may check their email for as little at $15.95 a month.
Starbucks Coffee 1
Starbucks Coffee 2

Hotels and airports are beginning to offer the same wireless connectivity. 
Airports
Hotels

Hardware components are available at electronics stores or online.
Radio Shack
Best Buy
Circuit City

A Story Problem
Technology
Application
Concerns
Feasibility
Read the story carefully, then answer the question.
Wireless networking is very similar to cellular systems.
Uses for a wireless network.  PAN, LAN, and WAN
Security measures for wireless networking.  Health concerns with radio transmission.
Cost, availability, and standardization necessary to  realize wireless networking.

Bibliography for more information...

 A Two Cents Production Copyright 2001 Nicholas Ward
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