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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. 

 
Technology

The Internet is possible because all computers and networks use a common language.  This language, known as TCP/IP, allows data to be transferred from one computer to another through a network of other computers.  Once a computer connects to this network, it can access computers in the same room, across town, or on the other side of the world. 

This system requires that wires connect each of the computers in the network.  It's a great technology but kinda hard to use outdoors.

Letís look at cellular phones.  A cell phone uses radio to transmit to a cell tower.  As long as the cell phone is in range of the tower, calls can be made.  Over the past few years, the transmissions have been coded into oneís and zeroís.  This digital signal allows more people to talk on the same tower at the same time. 

An identical technology has been brought into the home.  Many homes have a cordless phone.  Again, as long as the cordless phone is in range of the base, calls can be made.  Cordless phones are also using digital technology to give users better clarity, further range, and increased privacy.  A 900MHz cordless phone may work as far as 300 feet from the base.  A 2.4GHz cordless phone may work up to one mile from the base.  (2.4 GHz may receive interference from microwave ovens.)

The same system is used for home wireless networking, only the names of the devices change.  A Wireless Access Point (WAP) takes the place of the cellular tower or cordless phone base.  A Wireless Network Adapter (WNA) connects to a computer and becomes the cell phone or cordless handset part of the system. 

The WAP allows any nearby WNA to connect through it.  So, if you connect an Access Point to your Internet connection, all of your computers with Network Adapters will be able to access the Internet.  Also, each of your computers will be able to access the others on this network.  They can transfer files, access programs, or play video games, all without a physical wire.

Simply increasing the broadcast range allows computers anywhere inside the range of the access point to connect to the Internet.  Obviously, one access point cannot reach everywhere.  However, increasing the number of access points will allow computers to connect throughout a larger geographic area. 

Thatís right the network of access points would begin to look very similar to that of cellular towers. 

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 transmissions.
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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