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All About Wireless

Q. How does wireless work?
A. There are several wireless technologies. Their main advantage is they eliminate cables, tethering a user to a particular location. Information is sent and received either using infrared light (IR) or radio frequency waves (RF). The standard RF wireless technologies are BT, wireless LAN, and cellular (GSM/GPRS and EDGE). RF wireless technologies allow users to roam away from whatever they are communicating with, allowing them to work and stay connected. IR has a limited distance over which it can transmit and receive, and the devices must be pointed directly at each other to communicate.
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Q. What is IR?
A. Infrared, in CipherLab devices, is the technology typically used for communication between the handheld and the cradle. It offers fast communication without a physical connection, thus there are no mechanical contacts that can wear out or get damaged, increasing reliability. Data from the handheld to the cradle, as well as any application being sent to the handheld through the cradle, flows over the IR interface. Typical transmit/receive rate for IR in CipherLab devices is 38400 baud. The IR interface can also be used to communicate with a printer equipped with IR.
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Q. What is BT?
A. BT is a short-range RF wireless technology, most often used for communication with peripherals, like printers, cameras, cell phones, and PCs. Typical range for BT is about 10 meters for Class II. It's not designed for use as a wireless network, like wireless LAN.
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Q. What are BT classes?
A. BT classes are based on power consumption and the resulting broadcast range of the BT radio. BT has three classes: Class I, Class II, and Class III, with Class I being the most powerful. CipherLab does not offer Class III devices, and has discontinued Class I. CipherLab does offer a Class II radio with a typical broadcast range of about 10 meters.
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Q. What is wireless LAN?
A. Wireless LAN is a local area wireless networking technology that allows handhelds to communicate with a company's local area network using radio waves instead of a cable. The network speed depends on the wireless LAN class. It has a longer broadcast range than BT, typically up to 350 meters. This allows handhelds to access servers and applications in real-time while users roam the work area, whether it's a warehouse, the sales floor, or other places on campus. Wireless LAN requires wireless LAN transmitters and receivers, called access points, strategically placed around the work area. They receive and send the wireless signals between the handheld and the local network.
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Q. What are wireless LAN classes?
A. Wireless LAN has evolved over the last decade into several classes based on their RF frequency and networking speed. The main classes are 802.11b and 802.11g, both operating at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. 802.11b networks run at up to 11 Mbps (megabits per second), while 802.11g networks run at up to 54 Mbps. Most devices classified as 802.11b will work within 802.11g networks, if the network is set up for both classes. 802.11g devices will not work in an 802.11b network.

Security in wireless networks is a key concern for IT managers. Like the network technology, security has also evolved from early protocols, like WEP, to more complex security protocols, like AES and AES2, which make wireless networks safer.
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Q. What is wireless WAN (GSM/GPRS)?
A. Wireless WAN (GSM/GPRS) are radio technologies that work on cell phone networks to transmit voice and data. Unlike wireless LAN and BT, these technologies are highly regulated by national organizations, like the FCC in the United States. They are commercially used by cell phone carriers around the world, which broadcast at as many as four different frequencies. These technologies enable field personnel, like truck drivers or field service and sales representatives, to communicate data between corporate databases and their handheld in the field, while also making phone calls. GSM and GPRS require service provided by a commercial carrier. CipherLab offers a wireless LAN (GSM/GPRS) connectivity option in its mobile computers. It is integrated feature into models of the 8500, 9400 and 9500 series; it is available in a cradle for the 8000 and 8300 series.
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Q. What is EDGE?
A. Like wireless WAN (GSM/GPRS), EDGE is another cell-based radio technology, but offers faster data rates. EDGE automatically detects and communicates on all four worldwide cell phone radio frequencies. CipherLab offers EDGE technology in its products.
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