How to Speak Wireless

By Lee Pender, CIO |  Networking

SMS (short messaging service) A service through which users can send text-based messages from one device to another (see BlackBerry). The message -- up to 160 characters -- appears on the screen of the receiving device. SMS works with GSM networks.

TDMA (time division multiple access) This protocol allows large numbers of users to access one radio frequency by allocating time slots for use to multiple voice or data calls. TDMA breaks down data transmission, such as a phone conversation, into fragments and transmits each fragment in a short burst, assigning each fragment a time slot. With a cell phone, the caller would not detect this fragmentation. Whereas CDMA (which is used more frequently in the United States) breaks down calls on a signal by codes, TDMA breaks them down by time. The result in both cases: increased network capacity for the wireless carrier and a llack of interference for the caller. TDMA works with GSM and digital cellular services.

WAP (wireless application protocol) WAP is a set of protocols that lets users of mobile phones and other digital wireless devices access Internet content, check voice mail and e-mail, receive text of faxes and conduct transactions. WAP works with multiple standards, including CDMA and GSM. Not all mobile devices support WAP, but IDC (a sister company to CIO's publisher, CXO Media) projects that more than 1.3 billion wireless Internet users will have WAP-capable devices in their hands by 2004.

WASP (wireless application service provider) These vendors provide hosted wireless applications so that companies will not have to build their own sophisticated wireless infrastructures. Vendors include Etrieve and Wireless Knowledge.

WCDMA (wideband CDMA) A third-generation wireless technology under development that allows for high-speed, high-quality data transmission. Derived from CDMA, WCDMA digitizes and transmits wireless data over a broad range of frequencies. It requires more bandwidth than CDMA but offers faster transmission because it optimizes the use of multiple wireless signals -- not just one, as with CDMA.

Wireless LAN It uses radio frequency technology to transmit network messages through the air for relatively short distances, like across an office building or college campus. A wireless LAN can serve as a replacement for or extension to a wired LAN.

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