The wireless backbone

Deployment of mobile multimedia systems will depend on the rollout of high-speed wireless systems nationwide. There are two basic network types:

Wireless local-area networks — Based on the IEEE 802.11 protocols, WLANs are starting to expand in cities' "hot spots." They are capable of data rates from around 1 megabit/sec up to 50 megabits/sec, and up to distances of several miles and more.

Cellular data networks — New technologies, being tested now by telecommunications companies in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, are capable of burst rates of up to 2.4 megabits/sec. Described as "cable modems on wheels," cellular data networks will probably be the ubiquitous wireless data networks of the future.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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