There are three primary usage scenarios for wireless connectivity :
WPAN describes an application of wireless technology that is intended to address usage scenarios that are inherently personal in nature. The emphasis is on instant connectivity between devices that manage personal data or which facilitate data sharing between small groups of individuals. An example might be synchronizing data between a PDA and a desktop computer. Or another example might be spontaneous sharing of a document between two or more individuals. The nature of these types of data sharing scenarios is that they are ad hoc and often spontaneous. Wireless communication adds value for these types of usage models by reducing complexity (i.e. eliminates the need for cables).
WLAN on the other is more focused on organizational connectivity not unlike wire based LAN connections. The intent of WLAN technologies is to provide members of workgroups access to corporate network resources be it shared data, shared applications or e-mail but do so in way that does not inhibit a user’s mobility. The emphasis is on a permanence of the wireless connection within a defined region like an office building or campus. This implies that there are wireless access points that define a finite region of coverage.
Whereas WLAN addresses connectivity within a defined region, WWAN addresses the need to stay connected while traveling outside this boundary. Today, cellular technologies enable wireless computer connectivity either via a cable to a cellular telephone or through PC Card cellular modems. The need being addressed by WWAN is the need to stay in touch with business critical communications while traveling.
The following table summarizes each wireless connectivity usage scenario by a wireless technology.
Wireless Usage Scenarios by Technology
|Wireless Standard||Application Category||Usage Scenario|
|Bluetooth||Wireless Personal Area Networking (WPAN)||
|802.11b||Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN)||
|Cellular Technologies (GSM)||Wireless Wide Area Networking (WWAN)||
Bluetooth and 802.11 are emerging as the preferred technology in the commercial space for WPAN and WLAN respectively. Higher throughput, longer range and other characteristics make 802.11 better suited for WLAN than Bluetooth. The rest of this document gives a basic overview of these two technologies detailing the basic concepts, the principles of operations, and some of the reasons behind some of their features.