Wi-Fi was originally envisioned by the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN architects as a convenient wireless replacement for cables in an Ethernet network wherein the Wi-Fi semiconductors could be powered by the PC's power supply or a laptop computers large battery. Power efficiency was not a primary factor in the original Wi-Fi architecture. So when Wi-FI chips designed for laptops are integrated into cell phones or smart phones, they tend to draw an undesirable amount of power from the small cell phone battery.
According to a report from UBM TechInsights, Bluetooth had achieved 100% adoption into handsets by 2010, and by 2010 Wi-Fi had achieved a 92% adoption rate. Wi-Fi growth was largely fostered by the use of single chip solutions integrating Wi-FI and Bluetooth with a 62% adoption rate by 2010. Although the availability of Wi-Fi in standard handsets is still limited, the fastest growing segment of phones, the smartphones, all have Wi-Fi integration. Enabling Wi-Fi on a smartphone has an impact on battery life well beyond that of cellular-only usage.
Recognizing an impending deficit in available cellular spectrum, cell phone companies encourage more mobile traffic to be unloaded onto available Wi-Fi networks. The FCC projects data usage to cross a critical threshold at the end of 2012 (http://transition.fcc.gov/
The aforementioned trends to increase Wi-Fi usage, and limitations of Wi-Fi in smartphones, have not gone un-noticed by the chipset manufacturers. In fact, the recent acquisition of wireless LAN chipset manufacturer Atheros by Qualcomm, the leading cellular chipset manufacturer, is positive affirmation of the need for the wireless LAN and cellular technologies to coexist and compliment one another. As stated by Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, "It is Qualcomm's strategy to continually integrate additional technologies into mobile devices to make them the primary way that people communicate, compute and access content. This acquisition is a natural extension of that strategy into other types of devices." Said Steve Mollenkopf, EVP and group president of Qualcomm, "We see this strategy as central to helping our customers capitalize on the ubiquitous connectivity and seamless experiences that are developing across mobile phones, computing and consumer electronics."
From these statements, it appears probable that the Atheros Wi-Fi chipset technology is going to be more thoroughly integrated into the handset, especially with regard to conservation of battery power and improved mobile performance. In the near future, smartphones and tablet computers will likely have "always-on" Wi-Fi capability, without as noticeable an impact on battery life. Additionally, Atheros has been a leader in integrated 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) Wi-Fi chipsets, exploiting the 500 MHz of bandwidth available at 5 GHz versus the 80 MHz of bandwidth available at 2.4 GHz. So, although smartphones possess 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi at this time, very soon they will possess both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi.
Wireless networking is not a matter of cellular or Wi-Fi, it is both technologies acting in concert. And, from the standpoint of building the wireless infrastructure, the designer needs to be cognizant of the fact that handsets, mobile computers, and other devices will imminently anticipate the availability of a robust, mission-critical cellular network and dual band Wi-Fi wireless LAN.
For more information on designing networks to meet upcoming challenges, and for secure, convenient, and aesthetic telecommunications and wireless access point enclosures for suspended ceiling and wall-mounted systems, please call 1-877-867-2312 or visit http://oberonwireless.com.
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ABOUT OBERON, INC. - Since 1999, Oberon, Inc. has been providing products and services to integrators and end users of wireless LAN "Wi-Fi" network products. Oberon's wireless enclosures and antenna products are used where the RF coverage, infrastructure security, environmental robustness, and aesthetics are paramount in the network design and implementation. Oberon offers ceiling-mounted telecommunications enclosures for Ethernet switches, patch panels, wireless controllers, and other networking and A/V components - ideal for structured cabling and Fiber-to-the-
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