Since the construction of the information Superhighway, its' use to distribute information has become phenomenal. Information gathering and dissemination is the most valuable asset for a business to succeed. Demands for more and more efficient means of connecting to the Internet have driven exponential technological advances. So much so that the craze to connect has gone wireless and with this technology an entirely new set of issues, concerns and problems have arisen. One movement associated with the wireless phenomena is the free wireless internet access movement, not unlike the original free internet movement, which largely became a victim of cost burdens and an inability to increase technology with growth, the free wireless movement is a demand by individuals and communities to offer a network or global (inside city limits) connectivity system that is free of charge to the wireless user.
This paper will define and analyze the free wireless movement looking at several city wide and community locations, that have implemented or are in the process of implementing free wireless networks, to develop a greater understanding of what this fast spreading access movement is and what effects it has on the information system. It will delve into the intricacies of its' birth and the forecast of life expectancy. It will define the sometimes confusing terms associated with the phenomena and the work will address security issues with regards to the open airwaves of the wireless networks, how users and administrators will deal with spam, viruses and filters for the Internet. It will assess the laws related to free access, and also what technologies are needed to create and access the system. After unveiling the facts concerning free wireless, one will be able to view the recommendations and conclusion herein as substantiated.
The wireless movement includes many issues of telecommunication that have been widely debated since the advent of the cell phone. Many believed that cell phone access would almost instantaneously replace traditional wired phone service, though it has proven to be a more gradual process, changes are imminent.
Many analysts believe that wireless could become the voice communications technology of choice -- eventually becoming a substitute for existing telephone service-because it offers the added advantage of mobility. Over the next five to 10 years, wireless technologies will emerge as significant competitors in most communication, information and entertainment markets. (Office of Technology Assessment [OTA], 1995, p. 32)
The greatest reason why many individuals have reluctantly retained wired phone connections, or land lines has to do with the inability for the standard user to access the internet without a hard wired phone. Though the technology is now available for such access the transition will again be gradual as issues of cost, legality and security are worked out by the wireless experts and the FCC.
The main denominator in the issue was largely cost, as standard internet connections, through dial up services are still less expensive than the wireless systems available to users.
Yet, as wireless cell phone companies begin to develop packages and plans (including equipment), in the same manner that the traditional wire-based organizations have (noting here that the companies are often multifaceted and offering both wired and wireless services) and the technology becomes more widely available the cost issue will disappear from the radar screen and wireless will become the standard system for access.
With this wireless movement there has been the development of an underground movement to offer wireless access free to any individual who has the equipment to use it. Though the traditional paid systems are more likely to retain the publics attention those who are sincerely interested in wireless access are becoming more and more aware of these services being offered free of charge in many locations, beginning with traditional settings like coffee shops and hotels, but this trend has resulted in t he reality that regulating such services through a cost system is difficult and that accessing the open air systems for free is virtually bound to happen.
It is for this reason and for common reasons of many individuals wishing to close the technology gap between the rich and the poor that free wireless movements have sprung up, and they are clearly growing exponentially.
Definition of Terms
One of the greatest challenges of a concrete understanding of the technology surrounding wireless access is the reliance on new and varied terms associated with the technology of the industry. Wireless access technology can take one of several forms and is determinant of the ability of the technology to transmit information and the distance from antennas and repeaters which the technology can be used. Within the research several terms stand out and new and in need of definition yet definitions of the actual network types must take precedence.
Within the resulting definitions, found within the online Wireless Dictionary, are the answers to many questions about wireless technology and the shared or unshared nature of the different devices. Distinctions between the different types of wireless include of coarse hardware differences and software differences yet the most substantial differences between the transmission modes are the frequency ranges at which they send and receive data.
Bluetooth is a wireless personal area network (WPAN) communication system standard that allows for wireless data connections to be dynamically added and removed between nearby devices. Each Bluetooth wireless network can contain up to 8 active devices and is called a Piconet. Piconets can be linked to form Scatternets...The system control for Bluetooth requires one device to operate as the coordinating device (a master) and all the other devices are slaves. This is very similar to the structure of a universal serial bus (USB) system that is commonly used in personal computers and devices such as digital cameras. However, unlike USB connections, most Bluetooth devices can operate as either a master (coordinator) or slave and Bluetooth devices can reverse their roles if necessary. This diagram shows the basic radio transmission process used in the Bluetooth system. This diagram shows that the frequency range of the Bluetooth system ranges from 2.4 GHz to 2.483 GHz and that the basic radio transmission packet time slot is 625 usec. It also shows that one device in a Bluetooth piconet is the master (controller) and other devices are slaves to the master. Each radio packet contains a local area piconet ID, device ID, and logical channel identifier. This diagram also shows that the hopping sequence is normally determined by the master's Bluetooth device address. However, when a device is not under control of the master, it does not know what hopping sequence to use to it listens for inquiries on a standard hopping sequence and then listens for pages using its own Bluetooth device address.
Bluetooth technology not as likely to be used as a system for a free wireless access network as the hardware to use the system is installed in less PCs and Laptops and more hand held and telephone systems. The exclusivity of the system makes it a more likely tool for those who wish not to offer access for free, yet it could be expanded to meet the needs of a free network, if those expected to use such a network where able to obtain the technology in larger subsystem formats.
Wireless LAN (WLAN)
Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) allows computers and workstations to communicate with each other using radio propagation as the transmission medium. The wireless LAN can be connected to an existing wired LAN as an extension, or can form the basis of a new network. While adaptable to both indoor and outdoor environments, wireless LANs are especially suited to indoor locations such as office buildings, manufacturing floors, hospitals and universities. This figure shows the frequency band and radio channel size that is used in the 802.11b system. This example shows that the basic radio channel in the 802.11b system is 25 MHz wide and that the center frequency of the radio channel can be assigned to different points (channels) in the 83 MHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) unlicensed frequency band. This example shows that there can be up to 3 non-interfering (non-overlapping) 802.11b radio channels operating in the same ISM frequency band.
It is within the above example that most personal wireless systems fall, including but not limited to the most well-known system Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity. The WLAN classification that most free wireless access networks reside as they seem to be those with the greatest return on the investment and with the most users able to access them.
Wireless Access Protocol (WAP)
Wireless access protocol (WAP) is an industry specification that allows advanced messaging and information services to be delivered to wireless devices independent of which wireless technology they use. A WAP server is a computer that can receive, process, and respond to an end user's (client's) request for information or information processing. This figure shows how pull notification works with a WAP server. This example shows a WAP push proxy gateway that receives…