High speed internet access using cellular infrastructure
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The way that the Internet is accessed has changed dramatically in recent years. In addition to wire line connections such as dial-up, xDSL, cable modems or optical fiber, wireless implementations are gaining market share based on technologies such as WiFi, WiMAX, MBWA, satellite and cell phone networks. This thesis examines the potential usage of providing Internet access through cellular infrastructure. The cellular evolution path from first generation (1G) to third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) systems is studied and presented. The most popular worldwide cellular voice and data network technologies are also described. Additionally, the Cingular Wireless network in Monterey, California is tested in terms of speed and reliability by providing Internet access to a laptop through a mobile phone. The analysis shows that, depending on the cellular network availability, throughput varied from 5 to 25 Kbps and Round Trip Time (RTT) averaged about 1 sec. Furthermore, it is shown that TCP Timestamps and the Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) were implemented at the end hosts, thus increasing performance. The thesis concludes that as of July 2004, the 2.5G cellular data networks are a reasonable solution for those who need Internet access anywhere that a cell signal is available, including from moving vehicles, and who can afford its high cost. For others it is not yet an acceptable solution. However, the future 3G networks are an excellent solution in wireless broadband Internet access. These will probably be relatively expensive at first, but the cost should eventually decrease to a reasonable level.
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