Electronic Design

Wireless Networking: Know It All

By Praphul Chandra, Daniel M. Dobkin, Alan Bensky, Ron Olexa, David A. Lide, Farid DowlaISBN: 075-068-5824

There are dozens of books on wireless networking out there. I must have eight or ten of them myself and add to that pile every now and then simply because these books go out of date so fast. Just when the authors finish the book they become obsolete as new standards, technologies, chips and applications come along. Asi es la vida . . . as they say. That being the case, it is still not a good argument against buying these books. If you need the knowledge and information, buy them anyway and get what you can, knowing full well that you will have to buy the next update in the future.

This book is more up to date than most I have seen. And the fact that it is written by a large group of authors means that it probably took less time to write it than most. That in turn means that it’s probably more up to date than most. After looking through it, I can confirm this.

I like books like this as they fill in the gaps of your knowledge. So many of you know the gist of the subject but yearn for some ‘nitty gritty’ to aid your understanding—this gives you some depth and detail you just might need.

There just is no room for a complete look at all the chapters, but here is a listing of them so you can see just what you are getting:

Chapter 1: Basics of Wireless Communications

If you already work in wireless you probably know the stuff in this chapter. If you are new to wireless, this is a great intro. It has the best explanations of the OFDM and FFT I have ever seen. It includes all the related math but the coverage is very understandable.

Chapter 2: Basics of Wireless Local Area Networks

Good overview of the 802.11 standard and Wi-Fi uses. Introduces Bluetooth, ZigBee and UWB.

Chapter 3: Radio Transmitters and Receivers

Good section on the architecture of receivers, transmitters, and transceiver ICs. There’s lots of material on specifications and measurements I have not seen before. Does not necessarily teach you to design these but it certainly helps you select and apply the many chips that are available.

Chapter 4: Radio Propagation

Few individuals really understand this subject. Yet, anyone who uses or applies wireless devices really needs to understand just how radio signals get from one place to another and all the things that affect them. Understanding this will lead to better link reliability—a must read chapter.

Chapter 5: Antennas and Transmission Lines

Here are two more topics that are taken for granted. Most of us cannot do much about the chips in devices but we can buy, build, or deploy better antennas. It also includes a section I call Smith chart 101—a good intro.

Chapter 6: Communication Protocols and Modulation

Good summary of protocol basics with explanations of coding and modulation.

Chapter 7: High Speed Wireless Data: System Types, Standards-Based and Proprietary Solutions

Overview of the basic standards like 802.11, 802.16 and even the elusive 802.20.

Chapter 8: Propagation Modeling and Measuring

This chapter has m ore details on propagation and how to predict where your signal will go and how far. Modern methods and software explained.

Chapter 9: Indoor Networks

Unlike most wireless systems, WLANs are used mostly indoors. I have never seen info like this before but it explains a great deal why radio performance inside buildings is shoddy. This chapter is a real eye opener.

Chapter 10: Security in Wireless Local Area Networks

A chapter on the topic that most say is the greatest downside of wireless networks but few implement: security. It includes a nice overview of the encryption and other security measures used mainly in 802.11 systems. A good introduction if you are a novice in this area.

Chapter 11: Voice Over Wi-Fi and Other Wireless Technologies

Voice over various forms of wireless like Wi-Fi and coming on WiMAX are becoming very common. This chapter provides an introduction to dual-mode phones and alternative telephone wireless systems.

Chapter 12: Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks

This is a new subject for most. Check it out.

Chapter 13: Wireless Sensor Networks

This hot new field of application is growing significantly and may actually affect us all at some point. Here is an introduction that lays out the trade offs and benefits.

Chapter 14: Reliable Wireless Networks for Industrial Applications

Industry use of wireless has been slow in coming as practitioners fuss about the unreliability of wireless in manufacturing and other industrial applications. But big progress has been made. This chapter explains how to deploy wireless in these demanding environments.

Chapter 15: Applications and Technologies

Provides additional information on how 802.11 systems and similar wireless technologies work.

Chapter 16: System Planning

A good starting point for planning a wireless system.

Overall, it’s a good book of summaries of basic theory and the latest technologies in an understandable format. An excellent reference. My main concern with this book is the lack of coverage on spatial multiplexing and multiple antenna technologies like MIMO. MIMO is becoming more and more a part of all WLAN and WMAN technologies. So is beamforming. Maybe that will be in the second edition.

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