Peer-to-Peer Wireless Network Confederation

Peer-to-Peer Wireless Network Confederation

Elias C. Efstathiou, George C. Polyzos
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 4
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-563-4.ch072
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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ratified the initial version of the standard for Wireless Local Area Networks known as IEEE 802.11 in 1997 (IEEE Standards, 2004). Belonging to the same family of standards as the Ethernet, it was labeled “Wireless Ethernet” and considered an appropriate networking technology for offices because it did not rely on cables. Although burdened by a lack of strong security (Fluhrer, 2001) and lower throughput compared to its wired equivalent, IEEE 802.11 was a success. The cost of manufacturing 802.11 chipsets fell quickly, and 802.11 found its way from desktop PCs to laptops and next generation cellular phones. Wi-Fi, a consumer-friendly moniker for 802.11, was adopted and the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), a nonprofit international association, was formed in 1999 to certify the interoperability of Wi-Fi products. WECA changed its name to the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2002 (Wi-Fi Alliance, 2004). The two main components of Wi-Fi networks are the wireless clients and the Wi-Fi access points, which are the wireless equivalent of Ethernet hubs. Clients equipped with Wi-Fi can communicate wirelessly with nearby access points that link them to each other, to the local wired network and to the Internet. Clients can also communicate with each other without access points (assuming their radios are within range) in a so called “ad hoc” mode (IEEE Std. 802.11, 1999). Newer IEEE specifications include 802.11g, which enables clients and access points to connect to each other at speeds of up to 54 Mbps; and 802.11i, which employs advanced authentication and encryption algorithms to protect against unauthorized users that attempt to gain access to private networks (IEEE Standards, 2004). Standard 802.11i also protects the confidentiality and integrity of wireless sessions, which are usually susceptible to eavesdropping and hijacking attacks. The term “Wi-Fi hotspot” is now being used to describe any area where Wi-Fi connectivity is available via nearby access point. Public hotspots can be found in airport lounges and shopping malls, in coffee shops and restaurants, and in hotels and exhibition centers. Wi-Fi users, which include business travelers as well as casual users, can use their portable devices in these hotspots to access e-mail, their corporate intranets and the Internet. Users can browse the Web, use instant messaging and location-based services, place cheaper voice-over-IP calls and conduct videoconferences. Nevertheless, such practice is still not commonplace (Stone, 2003).

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