Introduction to Mobile and Wireless Communications Networks

Introduction to Mobile and Wireless Communications Networks

Danda B. Rawat (Georgia Southern University, USA), Bhed Bahadur Bista (Iwate Prefectural University, Japan) and Gongjun Yan (University of Southern Indiana, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8751-6.ch001
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Wireless communication networks offer transmission of signals, such as voice, data, and multimedia, without using wires, which is the crucial part of mobile communications. After successful deployment of wireless cellular networks in licensed bands and Wi-Fi networks in unlicensed bands, such as Industry, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) and Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII), over the last decade, several wireless networks, application, and services are emerging. Furthermore, wireless networks offer several advantages including mobility while getting service, scalability for further extension, reduced cost-of-ownership, and so on. However, there are some disadvantages and concerns, such as security, data rate, reliability, range, etc. The demand of ubiquitous communications is driving the development of wireless and mobile networks. Wireless communication is the fastest growing segment of the communication industry. This chapter provides the fundamentals of wireless and mobile networks and their advantages and disadvantages.
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Wireless Communication Networks

Wireless networks are further classified as wireless personal area network, wireless local area network, wireless metropolitan network and wireless wide area network.

Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN)

Wireless network for interconnecting wireless devices centered around an individual person's workspace using ISM bands is known as wireless personal area network. Examples of WPAN are Bluetooth, Z-Wave, ZigBee, UWB and Body Area Network. WPAN devices follow IEEE 802.15 standard.


In Bluetooth networks, wireless users use a pairing or association process to establish encryption and authentication between two devices. The association process takes 1 to 4 seconds. Bluetooth was standardized as IEEE 802.15.1. Bluetooth provides theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 24 Mbit/s. Bluetooth devices form a master slave like structure while pairing and use 48-bit hardware address of a master, shared 128-bit random number, and a user-specified PIN of up to 128 bits. It is assumed that the Bluetooth network is secured; unfortunately it is possible to break the Bluetooth network [Shaked, Y., & Wool, A., 2005] by sniffing the packet or exploiting vendor specific flaws such as default setting of allowing any pairing. To protect Bluetooth devices, users need to change default setting and choose strong PINs.


ZigBee network operates in the ISM bands and its data transmission rates vary from 20 to 900 kb/s. Two devices take about 30 milliseconds to get associated. IEEE 802.15.4 standard defines the characteristics of ZigBee devices. To provide network security, ZigBee runs in two different security modes: Residential mode and Commercial mode. In residential mode, all users use pre-deployed key for the entire PAN and for all applications. Residential mode security protects the PAN from external eavesdroppers; however it does not provide the security from the user within the same PAN. In Commercial mode, the coordinator node in a trust center is used to pre-share the two master keys that provide extra security on top of residential mode. This method is costly since infrastructure is needed to have centralized coordinator node for the trust center to store sessions for each links.

Ultra Wide Band (UWB) Network

UWB network, IEEE 802.15.4a standard, uses low transmit-power and cover small coverage area. To attack this type of networks, the attacker should be close enough to the UWB network. The FCC in the US authorizes the unlicensed use of UWB in the range of 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. There are no standard security modes in UWB networks. According to WiMedia [ECMA International, 2013] there are three levels of link-layer security: Security Level 0 in which communication is fully unencrypted, Security Level 1 which has both encrypted communications with AES-128 for encrypted links and unencrypted communications for unencrypted links, and Security Level 2 in which all communications must be encrypted with AES-128.

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