Computer Networks (CS425)

Instructor: Dr. Dheeraj Sanghi

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Wireless Networks


As the need of communication became more and more demanding, new technologies in the field of networks developed. One of them is the use of wireless networks. It is the transmission of data from source to destination without the use of wires as the physical media.

Why to use Wireless?

Three reasons may be stated for the over-growing use of wireless networks across the world:
  1. They are ubiquitous networks. As the do not require messy wires as a medium of communication, they can be used to connect far-off places.
  2. They are cheaper than wired networks specially in the case of long-distance communication.
  3. They are pretty effective and fast, especially with the modern advancements in this field.

Some Terms and Technologies:

ATM-Asynchronous Transfer Mode:
ATM is a connection-oriented switching technology. It was built to support ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). ISDN required high speed cables for both its narrow band (64 Kbps) and broad band (155 Mbps) transmission. There were two technologies available for transmitting data-

  1. Circuit Switching: In this technology, when a user makes a call, the resources are reserved for him.  The advantage of this technology is that it prevents collisions among various users. But the disadvantage is that it leads to inefficient utilization of bandwidth-- if the user fails to send data or if the transmission speed is faster than the speed of sending data. then most of the bandwidth is wasted.
  2. Packet Switching: In this technology, resources are never reserved for any particular user. The advantage of this technology is that it leads to efficient utilization of bandwidth i.e. the channel is never free until & unless there are no users, But the disadvantage is that it causes many collision.
ATM was built as a combination of the best features of these two. Also ATM provides QoS (Quality of Service) based on the following priority pattern:
  1. CBR-Constant Bit Rate: Jobs that can tolerate no delay are assigned the CBR priority.  These jobs are provided same number of bits every frame..   For example, viewing a video reel definitely requires some blocks in every frame.
  2. VBR-Variable Bit Rate: Jobs that may produce different sized packets at different times are assigned VBR priority. They are provided with a variable number of bits varying between  a maximum and a minimum in different frames. e.g.. a document may be compressed differently by different machines. Transmitting it will be a variable transmission.
  3. ABR-Available Bit Rate: This is the same as VBR except that it has only the minimum fixed. If there are no CBR or VBR jobs left, it can use the entire frame,
  4. UBR-Unavailable Bit Rate: These jobs are the least priority jobs. The network does not promise anything but simply tries its best  to transmit it.
WLAN-Wireless LAN
This is currently being used as dictated by the standards of IEEE 802.11. It can be installed at the medium access layer and the data transmission can occur using a converter to reach the wired LAN network.( IEEE 802.x)
WATM-Wireless ATM
It is the wireless version of ATM.  It provides QoS. It is not yet available in market. because installing it will require the simultaneous installation of ATM infrastructure. It is currently being tested thoroughly.

Coupling of Networks:
The alternatives are:

  1. WLAN              LAN
  2. WATM             LAN
  3. WLAN             ATM
  4. WATM            ATM
  1. WLAN-LAN is the simplest of the above. According to the IEEE standards, the IEEE 802.11 (WLAN)  can be used with IEEE 802.x (LAN) as follows:
  3. WATM-LAN- NOT FEASIBLE because WATM requires an infrastructure of the type ATM
  4. WATM-ATM-this is also a simple scheme because WATM can run on ATM.

Issues involved in Wireless Networks

Wireless Physical Media

In the wireless physical media, three technologies are used:
  1. Transmission at Infrared frequency: This is easier to build and set-up. It is mainly used for indoor purposes because the beam has to be focussed and can't cross opaque media like walls etc.
  2. Transmission through Microwave: This is preferred as it requires low power consumption. (the bandwidth is fixed)  But the basic problem is that it requires Line-of-Sight. Also, it requires license.
  3. Transmission at Radio Frequency:  This is the one that is most familiar to us. The bandwidth is pretty large.

Integrity and Security of the signal

Spread Spectrum: To reduce the effect of noise signals, the bandwidth of the signal is increased tremendously. This is costly but assures better transmission. This is called SPREAD-SPECTRUM. This is used in two ways:

The problem still left undealt is that of bursty errors. If there  is lot of traffic, interference may hinder  the Base Station from  receiving data for a burst of time. This is called "Bursty Errors".
Such problem are looked at by MAC-Medium Access Control.


To control the traffic, various techniques are used. MAC  fulfills the following requirements:
  1. QoS Requirements:  It provides Quality of Service according to the priority of jobs.
  2. Error Control: Error handling is done using some codes.
  3. Frame Size: To transmit maximum data, we want the frame-size to be maximum but at the same time, large frame-size highly increases the probability of errors. So, MAC provides a tradeoff between the above two factors determining the size of the frame.
  4. Secure Transmission:  The data meant for a particular receiver is secured from others.
  5. Reasonable Transmission:  If the number of users increases, each should get reasonable service. MAC prevents unfair access to channel.
  6. Efficient utilization of Power:  If a transmitter is always on, it is continuously using power even if there is no data on the channel for it. This is reduced by sending the transmitter to "sleep mode" whenever the battery is going down. In this mode, the transmitter is unable to receive any data.

Architecture for Wireless Network

There are two types of architecture possible:
The Ad-Hoc network can be set up anytime. It does not require a Base Station.  It is generally used for indoor purposes.
The Infrastructure network involves Base Station and Mobile Terminals. It provides uplink facility    ( link from MT to BS) and downlink facility (link from BS to MT).


This protocol decides how to assign data slots to different users. The various policies it uses are:
  1. Fixed Assignment Policy
  2. Random Assignment Policy
  3. Centrally Controlled Policy
  4. Distributed Controlled Policy
  5. Hybrid Controlled Policy
Fixed Assignment Policy:
 In this policy, each terminal is assigned some sort of data slot to speak. It causes a fixed delay. It is done in 3 ways:
  1. TDMA (TIME DIVISION MULTIPLE ACCESS) :  Each user is given a fixed time to speak., after which the chance goes to another user. This cycle continues indefinitely.
  2. FDMA (FREQUENCY DIVISION MULTIPLE ACCESS): Each user is given a fixed bandwidth in which he can speak at all times.        
  3. CDMA (CODIVISION MULTIPLE ACCESS): Each user is given different frequencies at different times. This ensures that each user gets a fair amount of channel each time.

Also, sometimes, statistical multiple access is used in which a slot is assigned to a user only if it has data to send.

Random Assignment Policy
In this  policy, contention slots are provided to all the users. Problem may arise if the number of users increase drastically. The number of contention slots should be variable. This may cause some limiting of data slots but is necessary to prevent the derailment of the service .

Centrally Controlled Policy:
This is used in an infrastructure architecture.  It involves the participation of a Base Station which may assign slots and priorities(CNBR,VBR etc.) to all the users.

Distributed Controlled Policy:
This is used in Ad-Hoc architecture. The control is among the terminals which decide among themselves about who is going to speak first.

Hybrid Controlled Policy:
This combines the best features of centrally controlled and distributed controlled policies.


There are two kinds of Mac protocols:
  1. FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) This provides two separate bandwidths for uplink and downlink transmission. This leads to inefficient utilization of bandwidth as there is  more  traffic on downlink than uplink
  2. TDD (Time Division Duplex) This provides an adoptive boundary between the uplink and downlink frequency which depends on the what is being used at that particular time. It works as follows:
Any mobile terminal can be in 3 states : empty state, request state and ready-to-transmit state.
  1. uplink-MT1 sends a random-access request to BS to communicate with MT2
  2. downlink: BS sends a b-bit access id to MT2
  3. uplink:  MT1 sends the packet
  4. downlink: BS sends the packet to MT2
The TDD is more in use now-a-days.

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