CTIA Wireless 2007 Report Ways of wirelessly getting online By Eddie Hines

Need to go to a certain website for research? Sports scores? Looking for a place to eat? Today there are many things you need and want that are located online. But what if you are not at home using your DSL or Cable modem connection? We will show you all the ways you can now get online wirelessly, either through your cell phone, PDA, or laptop computer. In the future, this will be the mainstream way all of America will get online.

In the cellular phone universe there are several technologies and many different speeds available to get online. Let’s look at the main three.

Global System for Mobile Communication, or GSM, was
developed for worldwide communications. The three speeds used by consumers today is 2G, 2.5G and 3G. Prices for customers to use this technology on their cell phones or PDA averages to about $20 for T-Mobile customers, and $45 for AT&T customers. Let’s take a look in more detail of the three speeds available today. 2G, or GPRS (Global Package Radio Service), give you connection speeds of 40kbps, which is a little bit slower than a 56k modem. Companies in America that use this speed are T-Mobile and AT&T (formally Cingular). A majority of the continental US has this speed available but certain areas have been privileged to support higher speeds. The advantage though of using this speed is increased battery life. 2.5G or EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) is the next level of speed in wireless data. It can support speeds of up to 384 kbps, which are light years faster than GPRS ever could go. Currently this speed is available in about 70% of the country and is supported by both T-Mobile and AT&T. 3G, or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), is the next step which is currently being implemented on the AT&T network. Although the speeds could be more comparable with EDGE speeds, it has the capability to kick into

“overdrive”, supporting speeds up to 3.6 Mbps downstream. This then gives your cell phone or PDA the power to not only download email and websites and amazing speeds, but now you can really do video conferencing, music downloads, and other pieces of data that would have taken hours using an older technology. Currently, only 6 cities support UMTS so contact your local AT&T store for availability in your area.

Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA.

In the US, there is another technology that only exist in 83 other countries besides the US. It’s called Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA, that although not as portable as GSM technology, is quite ahead of them when it comes to speed. The national companies in America that support this technology currently are Alltel, Verizon and Sprint. The cost of unlimited usage of this technology averages to about $45 a month. Let’s take a look at 2 of their speeds. 2.5G or 1xRt (1 times Radio Transmission Technology) is the main speed of all CDMA2000 compatible phones and PDA’s It is available to a majority of the country and can support speeds of up to 384kbps. Using this speed, users can download large emails and browse the web comfortably, but still unable to stream video or music. 3G, or EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized), is the true 3G product that supports up to 1.5 Mbps, which allows companies like Verizon to implement their V-Cast service, allowing customers to stream music videos, purchase and listen to music online, watch live TV, and enjoy video conferencing.

IDEN, or Integrated Systems Enhanced Network is a 2G
technology only used now in the Sprint Nextel Corporation. This technology was famous for its walkie-talkie feature which was only available on this network until about a year ago. Because of the Sprint Nextel merger, this technology is being phased out, allowing users of these phones to integrate into Sprint’s CDMA network.


Laptops today have more options available to them to get online and much higher speeds then a cell phone signal. And although you can use a PC data card to use each service mentioned earlier, here are 2 technologies that only laptops and PDAs will have access to in the near future.

Wireless Fidelity, or Wi-Fi is a technology that allows a user to connect itself without wires to a close-by remote location. If the remote location, or router, allows permission to access its resources, then the laptop, PDA or portable device can essentially “log on” to that router and share any resource it has received permission to access, including internet access. The internet speed is pre determined by both the overall speed of the internet connection the router is receiving, and the wireless signal speed that it is transmitting. However, the more PCs you have sharing the network, the slower each users experience will be. Having that in mind, choose your speed based upon the number of computers you feel will share the connection simultaneously. The cost to access this router is determined by either the company leasing the wireless signal, or the home that you are in that is sending off the signal. And for security purposes a lot of users will ask for security credentials before allowing access to their wireless network. Let’s take a look at the 3 main speeds of wireless connections.

The first speed that was available to the public was 802.11B. 802.xx is a technology associated with a network protocol. The .11 signifies the Wi-Fi standard and must be ratified worldwide before it can be used. Now the “b” indicates the overall speed and range of the product. Max speeds for “b” was 11 Mbps and a range of 300 square feet. Now the illusion people had was that if the speed of this technology was 11 MBPS then the internet speed would be as fast. Sorry folks, but the router is limited in internet speed to the fastest speed of the internet, which now tops off only at 8 MBPS using a cable modem. However if you were to transfer data from one pc to another using wireless, then you will see the speed increase in the transfer.

The second speed boost came in 2003 in the form of the letter “g” which indicated top transfer speeds of 54 MBps. This protocol however advanced in many other ways. Using new discoveries in Wi-Fi, scientists have discovered ways to increase not only the range, or cloud these signals produces, but enhance the security features as well.

The 2 offspring of “g” are SRX and MIMO. SRX allows the range of the cloud to double in size in all directions, using multiple antennas. MIMO (Multiple in Multiple Out), boost the strength of the signal as well, but allows the overall speed of the router to double to 108 MBps. This technology is mainly used in homes that transfer very large data files, like videos or email attachments, but it is also used in the consumer electronics realm for Tivo and Slingbox to stream TV data to other computers in your home or a mobile device. Along with easier security implementations and setup, this has replaced the original “g” product for everyday home or office use.

The third and newest boost became standardized in 2007. Busing on SRX and MIMO technology, “n” can now create speeds topping 648 Mbps and ranges up to 2400 square feet. Now the “n” can do something the previous router could not, be neighbor friendly. Using this setting the router looks for other signals and adjusts its total range to not how all the bandwidth of your neighbors’ routers. This router is the ideal choice for Voice over IP applications as well as neighborhood-wide Wireless clouds. Many companies and cities are investing into this to create the first in its kind city Wi-Fi clouds.

WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE 802.16, which is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks". WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access (BWA) up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 10 miles (5 - 15 km) for mobile stations. In contrast, the Wi-Fi/802.11 wireless local area network standard is limited in most cases to only 100 - 300 feet (30 - 100m). With WiMAX, WI-Fi like data rates are easily supported, but the issue of interference is lessened. WiMAX operates on both licensed and non-licensed frequencies, providing a regulated environment and viable economic model for wireless carriers. Driven by Intel and Sprint, City Wide implantation of this new signal will begin first in Washington DC then go across the country in the next few years. With Wi-Max you will need a different PC card to reach this signal. At the CTIA Wireless 2007 conference, many companies showed future products that will take advantage of this signal, but don’t look for this to happen anytime soon. Expect an access fee to log on and use this resource, as well as issues to come up until this is perfected. Using this technology will move us closer toward VoIP usage over standard telephone or wireless lines and will be more cost efficient to create rather than using multiple Wi-Fi routers to generate the same signal.

How will you log on now?
All of these technologies open the door for greater uses of our mobile devices. The main factor for you will be cost and frequency of use. IF you know you will use your GSM data connection more than using your wireless card in your laptop (you are not near any Wi-Fi clouds), then invest in an unlimited GSM plan for your area and pay for Wi-Fi when it is available. However if you know you are in a W-Fi cloud frequently, then you may not need to pay AT&T or Verizon for their all you can eat internet. Whatever your choice, be thankful the days of slow dialup speeds for your mobile devices are over!