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Is WLAN Right For You?
Levels of Wireless Networks
802.11b WLAN

Many enterprises have enjoyed some early success deploying wireless systems. A key factor for success is to map any planned applications to the appropriate network implementation. There are three basic levels of wireless networks:

Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN):
Serve a radius of 10 to 50 feet. A specification called Bluetooth is the prevailing standard here. It facilitates wireless communication between devices like PDAs and printers, or wireless keyboards and PCs, and other such components that comprise a small network. Homes and small offices are the primary adopters of this technology.

Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN):
Provide wireless access over a range of up to several hundred feet. IEEE’s 802.11b specification is the prevailing standard used by enterprises to implement WLANs today. Specifications like 802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.1x, each addressing issues specific to their design, are also gaining popularity.

Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWAN):
Extend the coverage of wireless access over large geographic areas. This is done through wireless carriers like Sprint PCS, AT&T, and others that operate in the United States and Canada. The main communication standards used are based on CDMAOne and GSM. While most of the wireless operators are aiming to implement the next-generation technology or 3G, the majority of the infrastructure today is at an intermediate 2.5G level. Enterprises with highly mobile workforces are adopting this technology.

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