Saturday, June 30, 2007

802.11 vs 3G

There are many wireless regulation and standards which are popular these days. 3G is another regulation developed rapidly besides 802.11. 3G, an abbreviation for the 3rd generation, mainly concentrate on the wireless multimedia transmission and is implemented widely on mobile phones. And this article is aimed at compare these two regulations

In theory, 3G wireless networks are capable of throughput up to 384Kbps, which still puts them at the bottom end of 802.11b's range. In practice, though, 3G isn't available in the United States at all except in experimental deployments.

Instead, we have telecomms using the "3G" name for what's actually, at best, 2.5G. This is a middle step between what we currently have, 2G, basic digital service, and the science fiction speeds of 3G. With 2.5G networks, you can transfer data at rates of up to 114Kbps generally using General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) (define).

So how good is GPRS, really? David Ferris, CEO and analyst for Ferris Research, has "been testing out GPRS connections with mobile phones in major metropolitan areas in the UK and US. These are now being brought on-stream by a wide variety of mobile carriers. In a nutshell, GPRS provides an always-on connection to the Internet. To be precise, GPRS enables per-handset data rates of 9.05-107.2 Kbit/sec depending upon the coding scheme employed and time slots (from 1-8) allocated to a data packet. In practice, we're finding that transfer speeds of 400 to 1000 bytes/sec are the norm."

Translated, what this means is that 2.5G is in no way competition for 802.11 for moving data. As Ferris explains, performance like this "means that communications need to be kept short, and that, in turn, means most of them will be text-based. E-mails with attachments will usually take much too long to transfer."Still, he thinks, that "applications like instant messaging, or distributing appointment information, can be run successfully." However, instant messaging or Web browsing on 2.5G or 3G phones isn't what 802.11-enabled laptops users think of as IM or the Web. On digital phones you must use Short Messaging Service (SMS) (define) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) (define). Without a special gateway between the SMS/MMS servers and consumer IM clients like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), or business-class IM clients such as Lotus Sametime or NetLert, you can't send messages from IM to someone using MMS or SMS on a digital phone. On the Web side, for a Web page to be viewed effectively on a digital phone, the signal must be sent in Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) (define) and the page should be written, not in the usual HyperText Makrup Language (HTML) (define) used for most Web pages , but in Wireless Markup Language (WML) (define). In short, viewing Web pages with on 2.5G and 3G is inherently more problematic.3G is also much more troublesome for telecom carriers to install. To deploy it you must overhaul your wireless infrastructure and replace it. Of course, you must do the same thing with 802.11 hotspots, but while hotspots have far less range, a business class hotspot with advanced antennas also can be deployed for about $1500, while all but the smallest (pico range) 3G base stations start around six figures and move up from there. Anyone can set up a hotspot; only a telephone carrier or corporation can afford 3G base station.

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