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3G vs WiFi a Closer Look by Moffat Ngacha

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3G vs WiFi a Closer Look by Moffat Ngacha
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  3G vs Wi-Fi: A Closer Look and My Take On It.Moffat Ngacha, S13/20041/09, moffatmn@egerton.ac.ke, Egerton University.Abstract 3G and Wi-Fi are two technologies that arewidely used to deliver broadband wireless in-ternet services, to portable devices.This paper seeks to provide a Computer-Scientific overview of the two technologies,show the technologies behind each, provide adiscussion on how each is used, talk on themerits, demerits, usage, similarities, differ-ences as well as stimulate a discussion on howComputer Science has helped this to come toa reality.3G (Third Generation Mobile) refers to thecollection of third generation mobile tech-nologies that are designed to allow mobileoperators to offer integrated data and voiceservices over mobile networks.Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) refers to the802.11b wireless Ethernet standard that wasdesigned to support wireless LAN (LocalArea Networks).It remains an open question as to the extentto which these two technologies are in com-petition or, perhaps, may be complementary.The paper also seeks to compare and contrastthe two technologies as well as present a casestudy in Kenya.The paper further seeks to provide a hint forpredictive nature of how the future on mobileand wireless communication will be like. Keywords: Internet; Broadband; Wireless; 3G; Wi-Fi;WLAN; Telecommunication; Ethernet; LAN 1 Introduction. 3G and Wi-Fi are the two most importantphenomena to take place in the telecommu-nication industry in the past two decades inline with the expansive growth in mobile tele-phony and internet services. These two en-tirely different worlds are now converging.The union of these two offers the benefit of the Internet multimedia with the flexibilityand mobility of wireless, with the main ideabeing to provide high speed internet connec-tion without the restriction of boundaries.It’s important to note that we also have othertechnologies in broadband wireless internetservices such WiMAX, Satellite, Bluetooth,GPRS, EDGE, 2G and 4G, which are notcovered by the scope of this paper.3G offers a top-down, vertically-integrated,service-provider approach to delivering wire-less internet access, while Wi-Fi offers an end-user-centric, decentralized approach to ser-vice provisioning. It represents a natural evo-lution and extension of the business modelsof existing mobile providers.Wi-Fi’s approach leverages on the large in-stalled base of WLAN infrastructure alreadyin place, as well as what is still going on.On 3G, billions of shillings of investment aremade in order to obtain licenses and to pur-chase expensive equipment to support highspeed data rates. Equipment manufacturersare developing base stations and handsets forlarge scale deployments for 3G services.1  On the other hand, Wi-Fi operates in theunlicensed ISM band which does not requirehuge amount of investment, at least to ac-quire licenses. Equipment is cheap as com-pared to 3G base stations. However, it doesrequire deployment to be done over a largescale. 2 3G. Third generation mobile telephony (3G), wasdesigned to provide mobile phone users accessto anything, anywhere and anytime.The 3G technology is provided by mobile tele-phone providers who operate on their ownwireless networks, using a licensed spectrumto provide wireless telephone coverage oversome relatively large continuous geographicservice area.In Kenya, Safaricom, which is the largest mo-bile telephone provider with at least 17 mil-lion subscribers and a subsidiary of the globalVodacom Corporation, has over 70% 3G net-work coverage, all over Kenya.Up-to-date figures of the same can be ob-tained from the Communication Commissionof Kenya (CCK) website.From a user’s perspective, the key feature of mobile service is that it offers ubiquitous andcontinuous coverage. That means that a con-sumer can carry on a mobile telephone con-versation while driving along a highway atover 100 km/h.To support the service, mobile oper-ators maintain a network of intercon-nected and overlapping mobile base sta-tions that hand-off customers as thosecustomers move among adjacent cells. Development of 3G Development efforts were started in 1988when International TelecommunicationsUnion (ITU) defined requirements for 3G.In 1992, World Administrative Radio Con-ference (WARC) defined frequencies forFuture Public Land Mobile Communicationswhich is now known as IMT- 2000. In 1998third generation partnership project (3GPP)which is an agreement of collaborationbetween a number of telecommunicationsbodies like Association of Radio IndustriesAssociation (ARIB Japan), China Commu-nications Standards Association (CCSA),Alliance for Telecommunications IndustrySolutions (ATIS) and TelecommunicationTechnology Committee (TTC), was formed.According to 3GPP, The original scope of 3GPP was to produce globally applicableTechnical Specifications and Technical Re-ports for a 3G mobile system based onevolved GSM core networks and the radio ac-cess technologies that they support.Afterwards, GSM, GPRS and EDGE cameinto place, which eventually brought to the3G networks. The evolution of 3G The first mobile services were analog. Al-though mobile services began to emerge inthe 1940s, the first mass-market mobile ser-vices in the US were based on the advanced2  mobile phone service (AMPS) technology.This is what is commonly referred to as first-generation (1G) wireless.In the 1990s, mobile services based on dig-ital mobile technologies ushered in the sec-ond generation (2G) of wireless that we havetoday. In the US, these were referred to aspersonal communication systems (PCS) andused technologies such as time division mul-tiple access (TDMA), code division multipleaccess (CDMA) and global system for mobile-communications (GSM). From 1995 to 1997,the FCC auctioned off PCS spectrum licensesin the 1850–1990MHz band. CDMA andTDMA were deployed in various parts of theUS, while GSM was deployed as the commonstandard in Europe.The 3G mobile technologies support higherbandwidth digital communications.The chief focus of wireless mobile serviceshas been voice telephony. However, in recentyears there has been growing interest in dataservices as well. While data services are avail-able over AMPS systems, these are limited toquite low data rates (10 kbps). Higher speeddata and other advanced telephone servicesare more readily supported over the digital2G systems.The 2G systems also support larger numbersof subscribers and so helped alleviate the ca-pacity problems faced by older AMPS sys-tems. Nevertheless, the data rates support-able over 2G systems are still quite limited,offering only between 10 and 20 kbps.To expand the range and capability of dataservices that can be supported by digitalmobile systems, service providers upgradedtheir networks to one of the 3G technologies.These can support data rates from 384 kbpsup to 2 Mbps. 3 Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is one of the mostestablished world-wide networking standardwhich incorporates the use of radio waves tolink computers and other network devices to-gether. It’s the common name used to re-fer to IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless Lo-cal Area Networks (WLAN). It’s mainly usedto connect devices without the use of wiresand allows them to share network resourcessuch as printers, file storage and broadbandinternet connection. Wi-Fi provides broad-band to Wi-Fi enabled devices by using backhaul Internet connection. Wi-Fi operates in2.4/5 GHz unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scien-tific and Medical) band.Wireline local area networks (LANs) emergedin the early 1980s as a way to allow collec-tions of PCs, terminals, and other distributedcomputing devices to share resources and pe-ripherals such as printers, access servers, orshared storage devices. One of the most pop-ular LAN technologies was Ethernet. Overthe years, the IEEE has approved a succes-sion of Ethernet standards to support highercapacity LANs over a diverse array of media.The 802.11 x families of Ethernet standardsare for wireless LANs.Wi-Fi LANs operate using unlicensed spec-trum in the 2.4GHz band. Most typically,WLANs are deployed in a distributed wayto offer last-hundred-meter connectivity to awireline backbone corporate or campus net-3  work. Typically, the WLANs are imple-mented as part of a private network. Thebase station equipment is owned and oper-ated by the end-user community as part of the corporate enterprise, campus, or govern-ment network. In most cases, use of the net-work is free to the end-users.Fig. 2 An example of a Wi-Fi networkAlthough each base station can support con-nections only over a range of a hundred me-ters, it is possible to provide contiguous cov-erage over a wider area by using multiplebase stations. A number of corporate busi-ness and university campuses have deployedsuch contiguous WLANs. Still, the WLANtechnology was not designed to support high-speed hand-off associated with users movingbetween base station coverage areas (i.e., theproblem addressed by mobile systems).In contrast to mobile, WLANs were princi-pally focused on supporting data communi-cations. However, with the growing inter-est in supporting real-time services such asvoice and video over IP networks, it is possi-ble to support voice telephony services overWLANs such as Skype and Google+ Hang-outs. Case study of Wi-Fi in Kenya. 1. Pay-as-you-go Wi-fiAn interesting perspective of paid Wi-Fiin Kenya is “Wazi-WiFi”. This is a paidservice that allows you to access wire-less internet across different access zones,known as hotspots, where you can usethe voucher purchased to access interneton a particular device.The recharge vouchers can be purchasedby use of credit cards and mobile moneytransfers services such as M-Pesa.2. Commercial Wi-fiThis is mostly in use in public insti-tutions of higher learning like universi-ties and tertiary colleges. This is pro-vided freely to students who only have toauthenticate using a specified usernameand password. This method is useful inhelping students and scholars to conducttheir research activities, while reducingthe cost incurred.The wi-fi is however not free par se, sincethe users pay for it in one way or another,either from school fees or taxes collectedby the government and channeled backfor purposes of promoting education.3. Wi-fi hotspots in buses, trains and air-ports.There has been an upcoming trend in mod-ern buses and trains providing Wi-fi to theircustomers when they are travelling. This is a4
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