Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 December 2009
Every now and then, a technology comes along which changes everything. Wi-Fi is one of those technologies.
Although wireless LAN technology has been around for close to 20 years, what we think of today as Wi-Fi has really existed for less than a decade. The IEEE 802.11b standard was ratified in 1999, enabling the then unheard of speed of 11Mbps. Shortly thereafter, the Wi-Fi Alliance was formed to focus on product interoperability certification and the development of the ecosystem and market. The combination of the right industry standard, unprecedented industry cooperation, and the novel utilization of unlicensed spectrum, created a new paradigm in terms of how people could connect to the Internet without wires.
Today, with the advent of draft 802.11n technology, we are able to deliver data rates in the multi-hundred Mbps range. We can now reliably cover most homes with a single access point using sophisticated MIMO techniques. We can connect large cities using advanced mesh architectures. With these developments, Wi-Fi is no longer confined to just the PC and networking application segments. Rather, Wi-Fi is now becoming a must-have feature in the latest consumer electronics products and handsets, ushering in new applications like voice and video. In a short period of time, Wi-Fi has moved from a cool, niche technology to one that is a mainstream, global phenomena.
I hope this book gives you a better appreciation for the power of Wi-Fi and stimulates your thoughts on where it can go in the future. Enjoy!