Wireless Networks: Cellular and WiFi

Wireless Networks are simply computer networks not connected by cables. There are different types of wireless networks such as Cellular and WiFi networks. Cellular network is a radio network spread across geographic locations through cells providing radio coverage over areas (Source: Technopedia.com).

Source: solidsignal

With cellular networks there exists a hierarchical structure where everything is through the base transceiver station, which allows devices to make connections with phones. The mobile switching network communicates with the base to interface with the public switched telephone network, and location registers to route calls back toward different base controllers. With cellular networks, information such as location is being stored, which allows devices to connect to the channel with the highest signal strength depending on location. Strong dedicated control channels transmit information to phones for the base and vice versa, and strong paging channels track phones when a call is routed to it by a mobile switching center (Source: Technopedia.com). These are the two channel fields.

Cellular networks are incredibly beneficial since it allows worldwide coverage in which LANs cannot reach. The implementation of other technologies including WLANs allows for roaming connections while maintaining contact. Cellular networks allow for much faster data transfer and greater flexibility as there are 3G/4G/5G networks allowing for different speed rates. Cellular networks also use less power than satellites since towers are closer and cover larger areas than a single transmitter.

Wi-Fi Networks also known as Wireless Fidelity Networks are networks that are wireless whilst connecting to your router and wireless devices allowing you to use a wireless radio signal. Wireless networks can be comprised of DSL, cable, satellite, etc. This is known as a LAN since you are setting up your device to your router for an internet connection. Ideally Wi-Fi simply uses radio waves to provide a network connection. It is similar to a cellular network in the sense that it translates data sent into a radio signal using an antenna, which is then transmitted to a router. The information received is then decoded and sent to the World Wide Web using a wired connection. All data trafficked from the internet will be sent via a physical ethernet connection to the router and then translated into a radio signal and finally sent to a wireless adapter.

This type of network uses 802.11 networking standard which has different types of frequencies. 802.11a transmits data at a 5GHz frequency, 802.11n at 2.4GHz, 802.11g at 2.4GHz but can transmit a max of 54mbps, and 802.11n which maxes at 140mbps and frequency of 5GHz. One wireless router can use more than one 802.11 standard. 802.11n is the most common standard used. 5G is the newest generation of technology used for telecom networks and is the successor to 4G LTE.

There are three major benefits to 5G over its predecessors -

The first being a significant increase in speed. At max efficiency, the fastest 5G speed will be approximately 10-20x faster than 4G. This is an astronomical jump in terms of speed and will provide the ability to do things such as streaming, uploading, or downloading without the use of WiFi.

The second is lower latency. 4G had latency that averaged roughly 50ms, however, 5G will introduce a latency capable of dropping to 1ms but users should expect a 10ms average. For the initial implementation of the 5G network, the millimeter-wave high-band spectrum is being used by operators. This drop in latency is significantly important for the new arising technology that is being incorporated into the world today. Things such as autonomous cars and virtual reality will really benefit from this decrease in latency.

The third is the increase in the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously to the network. The Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly growing, which means there are going to be more and more devices requiring data connections. This means that 5G is extremely beneficial for highly condensed areas as the quality of service will not be impacted due to an increase in network usage from thousands of users. 5G has the ability to provide data to up to 100x more devices per service area which is a massive boost compared to previous generations of technology.

The advancement in technology has both boon and bane - this is no different for wireless networking. To an average consumer, this might sound exciting but there is always a dark side that everyone should consider. Since the latest 5G network uses millimeter-wave spectrum to operate, there will be towers and antennas at every corner of the street - on every light pole, phone booth, home or businesses across cities and towns. This will indirectly lead to more exposure to these harmful radio frequency waves and thus causing various biological effects on humans. To name a few, genetic stress, sperm damage, disruption of brain cells, and brain tumors. Similarly, the waves that the 4G network emits are absorbed by the plants and/or rain and in return, cause harmful effects on the livings. But, in any case, we will continue to accept the technology.

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