Mobile Computing Networks

Using mobile computers when in transit implies mobile computing. This is effectuated by using wireless technologies such as LAN, WAN, Wi-Fi, GPRS, etc.

LAN refers to Local Area Networking. This is not a very mobile technology, as it restricts the area of its reach. LAN refers to the connectivity of two or more fixed or mobile computing devices within a particular area. This connection can be done physically by cables (in which case it would not be an example of mobile computing) or other connections such as infrared rays and wireless connections. LAN enables computers within its reach to share and compute data. It is primarily an intranet network.

WAN is Wide Area Networking. It is wider in its outreach. WAN refers to the connection of two locations. These locations may be connected internally through LAN networks. WAN essentially uses wireless connections between its locations.

MAN is another kind of network used in mobile computing. It stands for Metropolitan Area Networking and it connects mobile computing devices within a particular city or metropolitan area. Devices such as mobile phones and car computers can be hooked up onto MAN to keep them interconnected. MAN provides speeds of 128 kbps or 256 kbps. Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and about 15 major airports in America are currently connected by MAN.

Cell phones are currently the most commonly used mobile computing devices on the planet. They use wireless technologies such as GSM, CDMA, WLL, GPRS, EDGE, 3G etc. for their connectivity. Currently, GPRS or General Packet Radio Service is considered a fast-growing technology. GPRS networks coupled with EDGE or Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution provide fast Internet connection on cell phones. They can provide data transfer speeds of about 384 kbps, which are much higher than GSM and CDMA technologies.

Besides these popular services, there are also some lesser-known networks that have been introduced lately. One such network, the Metricom, was available in 12 cities and 15 airports. However, it is no longer available due to the company’s financial constraints. ArrayComm and SWIFTComm are relatively new networks that promise speeds of up to 1 Mbps to the mobile computer us

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Mobile Computing

Mobile computing refers to the use of any kind of computer in a moving environment. The motion may be of the device itself, as in laptops, palmtops, wearable computers, and mobile phones; or it may refer to the dynamics of the computing process, as in digital cameras, podcasters and MP3 players. Mobile computing devices generally use wireless technologies such as LAN, Wi-Fi, GPRS and the more recently introduced MAN.

Mobile computing can be broadly classified into two categories – portable computing and mobility computing. Portable computing actually refers to wired communication. Portable devices themselves are movable, but in order to access them one needs to connect them to a network port. That means, portable computing devices can be carried to wherever there is a network port available. Mobility computing is also called simply mobile computing nowadays. This is true wireless communication. Not only are the devices movable, but they can also be accessed from almost anywhere. Today, portable computing is almost on the verge of extinction; mobile computing has made its foray into almost every aspect of human life.

The first usage of mobile computing devices was perhaps in vehicles. Speedometers were among the first devices to get computerized. Almost every modern vehicle has several mobile computing devices under its dashboard. Cell phones are another rampant proliferation of mobile computing today. Every single cell phone is a computer in its own right. With the advent of wireless technologies, it is also possible to access the Internet through cell phones. Blue tooth has brought cell phone users closer than ever before and has facilitated data transfer within a stipulated area. Another brilliant advancement in the field of wireless technologies is the Metropolitan Area Network, or MAN, which will allow vehicles and cell phones to remain in communication with each other forming a network probably much vaster than the internet.

Today, mobile computing is a boon to people on the move. It can be used for checking mails while in transit and even carry out transactions and businesses. Services like SMS (Short Messaging Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) are targeted towards the younger generation to remain in contact with their colleagues and friends. During sports events, mobile networks keep users informed of the goings-on.

However, critics are concerned with the intrusion of privacy that mobile computing creates. Several members of the younger generation are turning into ‘gizmo freaks’ and becoming almost addicted to their mobile computing devices like watches and cell phones. Some of these devices which work on infrared technologies can also pose potential health risks.

Yet, mobile computing has become an indispensable extension of technology today. It is definitely here to stay.

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