Wireless IP, The Killer Application !?

My website and thesis captures the essential elements in the convergence path of wireless networks and Internet protocols resulting in the new paradigm of "Wireless IP." It covers all the important 1G/2G cellular technologies that I have seen in the past decade, along with 3G and 4G, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technologies,including modifications required in protocols, architectures, and framework in virtually every area such as QoS, security, mobility, and so on.

The thesis can be useful for anyone who is interested in the convergence of the wireless and IP networks and for them who need to understand how packet data services and IP work in the wireless world. Furthermore, the thesis represents my views and opinions , based on my technical understanding and experience in these areas

Because the increase of higher system capacities and data rates provided by latest and proposed wireless network technologies, and their closer integration with the Internet enabled by the IP technologies used in these wireless networks are enabling many new ways for people to communicate.
Also people on moving vehicles (e.g. cars, trains, boats and airplanes) may access the Internet or their enterprise networks the same way as when they are at their offices or homes. They may be able to surf the Internet, access their corporate networks, download games from the network, play games with remote users, obtain tour guidance information, obtain real-time traffic and route conditions information.

Wireless networks are evolving into wireless IP networks to overcome the limitations of traditional circuit-switched wireless networks. Wireless IP networks are more suitable for supporting the rapidly growing mobile data and multimedia applications.
IP technologies (such as Mobile IP) are the most promising solutions available today for supporting data and multimedia applications over wireless networks. IP-based wireless networks will bring the globally successful Internet service into wireless networks. The mobile or wireless Internet will be an extension to the current Internet.

Advanced mobile data and multimedia applications such as; MMS, play games in real time with remote users, Voice over wireless (VoIP calls) and broadcasting of audio and video advertisements to mobile phone users such as: advertiser supported phone calls, Wireless IP-enabled radio and watch TV, will grow very fast. New IP broadcasting techniques such as DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds), will make it possible to bring video broadcasting services to handheld receivers.

In particular, the growth of advanced mobile data and multimedia applications such as Voice-over-IP (VoIP) help increase multimedia traffic over the wireless networks significantly. Thus, Wireless IP can also be a killer sometimes. Therefore future Wireless IP networks can only be able to service those mobile data and multimedia applications without congestions in the Wireless network, if those Wireless IP networks are ready for it. In other words, "those networks need to be controlled (e.g. by QoS parameters or other specific protocols) end must have enough bandwidth to support all this types of services. Wireless networks and the IP technologies within those networks have to be reviewed and evolved constantly.

Remark these words:
The traffic on broadband wireless networks will be increasingly IP

Archive for Independent Wireless Consultancy | Reviewer – Editor

UMTS is a direct competitor to WiMAX. UMTS is been deployed in Europe and elsewhere mostly by Mobile Telephone operators. The HSDPA technology enables downlink with data transmission up to 8-10 Mbit/s. In July 2005 EU frequency allocation for WiMAX was blocked by France and Finland, where manufacturers have invested heavily in UMTS technology.

Unlike earlier Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) iterations WiMAX is highly standardized which should reduce costs.

However, since chipsets are custom-built for each BWA manufacturer, this adds time and cost to the process of bringing a product to market, and this won’t be changed by WiMAX. WiMAX’s equivalent or competitor in Europe is HiperMAN. WiMAX Forum, the consortium behind the standardization, is working on methods to make 802.16 and HiperMAN interoperate seamlessly.

What this points out is that :
• There is the Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS),WiFi sort of service, where a small antenna on your computer connects to the tower. In this mode, WiMAX uses a lower frequency range, 2 GHz to 11 GHz (similar to WiFi). Lower-wavelength transmissions are not as easily disrupted by physical obstructions — they are better able to diffract, or bend, around obstacles.

• There is Line-Of-Sight (LOS) service, where a fixed dish antenna points straight at the WiMAX tower from a rooftop or pole. The line-of-sight connection is stronger and more stable, so it’s able to send a lot of data with fewer errors. Line-of-sight transmissions use higher frequencies, with ranges reaching a possible 66 GHz. At higher frequencies, there is less interference and lots more bandwidth.


What can WiMAX do?

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WiMAX operates on the same general principles as WiFi, it sends data from one computer to another via radio signals. A computer (either a desktop or a laptop) equipped with WiMAX would receive data from the WiMAX transmitting station, probably using encrypted data keys to prevent unauthorized users from stealing access.

WiMAX should be able to handle up to 70 megabits per second. Even once that 70 megabits is split up between several dozen businesses or a few hundred home users, it will provide at least the equivalent of cable-modem transfer rates to each user. WiMAX outdistances WiFi by miles.
WiMAX will blanket a radius of 30 miles (~50 km) with wireless access. The increased range is due to the frequencies used and the power of the transmitter. Of course, at that distance, terrain, weather and large buildings will act to reduce the maximum range in some circumstances, but the potential is there to cover huge tracts of land.


How WiMAX works

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In practical terms, WiMAX would operate similar to WiFi but at higher speeds, over greater distances and for a greater number of users. WiMAX could potentially erase the suburban and rural blackout areas that currently have no broadband Internet access because phone and cable companies have not yet run the necessary wires to those remote locations.

A WiMAX system consists of two parts:
• A WiMAX tower, similar in concept to a cell-phone tower. A single WiMAX tower can provide coverage to a very large area as big as 3,000 square miles (~8,000 square km).
• A WiMAX receiver, the receiver and antenna could be a small box or PCMCIA card, or they could be built into a laptop the way WiFi access is today.

A WiMAX tower station can connect directly to the Internet using a high-bandwidth, wired connection. It can also connect to another WiMAX tower using a Line-Of-Sight (LOS), microwave link.

Emerging standards, intensive research, and powerful enabling technologies make for an interesting race to 4G mobile broadband. A race is going on right now and it’s a heated one. It’s a race to the next generation of undeterred communications, 4G mobile broadband wireless.

The prize for reaching the finish line first or even finishing at all could be huge. Yet that finish line keeps moving, as the fourth generation (4G) isn’t yet fully defined.

Applications and services are what the end user eventually sees. The underlying technology is invisible or irrelevant from a user’s perspective. What the user really cares about is the usability of a feature. So performance and interaction as well as presentation become important. Third-generation networks enable the delivery of feature-rich applications by incorporating support for quality of service, high bit rates, and greater capacity.

Two distinct trends have emerged that are the primary drivers for convergence of packet and circuit based networks:

First is the need for access to information. The vast availability of information on the Internet has made the need to access the Internet a vital commodity. The Internet is an example of a packet data network that most people recognize today.

Second, people and society in general are more mobile and have the need to be constantly connected. This has fueled the rapid growth of wireless networks. Second-generation wireless networks have been primarily driven by voice services and are essentially circuit switched networks. The wireless Internet is the combining of the features of these two types of networks. Access to information from mobile devices is increasingly felt as one of the key applications for third-generation wireless networks. However, there is a clear difference in the way a user interacts with and experiences the wireless Internet. It is not the same as the traditional Internet experience using desktop and laptop computers. Form factors of the devices as well as the interfaces to the services will make the wireless Internet a new experience. The richness of this experience and applications are still under development, and it will be some time before consumers are able to embrace this concept on a wide basis. The acceptance of the wireless Internet is also based on regional views and cultural differences. Consumers in Japan and elsewhere who have been exposed to a kind of wireless Internet with the I-Mode network are more willing to try the new wireless Internet as opposed to users in the United States, where the traditional Internet, with access via desktop and laptop computers, has primarily flourished. While the Internet has influenced the current design of 3G  and 4G wireless networks, it is also the case that wireless networks will eventually change the way we view and interact with the Internet today.

The mobile market is changing from an environment dominated by voice to one where mobile Internet and enhanced data services will be equally important. The mobile device, which to some is as essential as the wallet or purse, is evolving toward becoming a life management tool. Functions such as calendars for appointments, web browsers, and e-mail are being incorporated into the devices. In the mobile world the key to success is via delivering targeted, timely, and essential services. It is extremely important that application developers understand consumers, their lifestyles, and their needs when designing and building services for the future. Nokia, which is a frontrunner in mobile wireless communication, has been projecting the vision of a mobile world and mobile information society wherein a major part of all personal communication will be wireless based in various forms such as voice calls, data exchanges, or multimedia sessions.

Voice services have been the bread and butter of wireless operators for a long time. Voice is expected to continue for quite some time into the future as well. However, there is evolution in terms of enhancements to the traditional voice call. One aspect is that the current circuit switched voice call may be carried over packet networks in the future. Hence the capability to support voice over IP is slowly being developed in 3G and 4G networks.

One of the key requirements of enabling VoIP is of course QoS support. With support for QoS being built into 3G and 4G networks, VoIP can be delivered in the near future. VoIP is already utilized in core networks and in enterprises over LANs. However it is not yet a part of the mainstream voice communication technology.End users really do not care about the technology being used to deliver the voice service: what matters to them is the voice quality. With the new codecs such as AMR (Adaptive Multi-Rate speech codec in 3G networks, voice quality is expected to improve over wireless networks.

In addition to supporting VoIP, the signalling mechanisms used to establish the voice calls are also evolving. The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which is developed in the IETF, has a lot of momentum and is included in the standards of 3G and 4G networks. SIP-based call control for supporting VoIP is already available. With SIP it is also possible to add new features to the traditional voice calls and create a rich call experience for the end user.


Wireless E-mail

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Wireless e-mail is more secure than placing voice calls over cell phones. When sitting in a crowed restaurant or airport gate area, you often hear people talking loudly (not sure why) about details of their businesses to others on the other end of the call. You often can’t help but listen to people spouting out sales forecasts, technical details of advanced product developments and personal information, such as Social Security numbers. E-mail handles this information silently, which affords a much higher degree of security, assuming proper encryption and authentication safeguards are in place.

Of course sometimes a phone call is necessary, but e-mail can suffice much of the time.  In order to fully realize wireless e-mail and enable other applications without substantial support costs, an enterprise should carefully prepare.

Services can also be classified into push and pull services. Push services are those that are delivered to the user without the user actively requesting them. Weather or flight updates, stock quotes, and news could be types of content that can be delivered via push services. Advertisements can also be classified as push services. The network has to be designed to support push services. User profiles would specify the type of services that the user has subscribed to or is capable of accessing. Pull services are typically the ones where the user initiates a request and obtains the content or sets up a session as a result. Web browsing is a typical pull service where the user requests information from some URL.

The types of services and applications that are offered and used by subscribers depend on whether the mobile service is used for business reasons or for personal use. Corporate and enterprise users are generally heavy users of mobile services and are normally targeted by the operators when launching new services

From an end-user perspective, applications and services can be defined as follows:

An application is a piece of software that enables a service. For example, Instant Messaging is a service. Application software, which includes the underlying protocols, middleware, and user interface, is combined to deliver a service. The service may require multiple network elements to work together. Network operators who view the network as a system are more interested in the services that can be offered to end users that generate revenue. The end user sees an application on the mobile terminal or device.