Originally, cellular networks were designed for voice communication only. Cellular technology has been evolving and now enables the transfer of voice, video, and data simultaneously. It also enables the use of laptops and portable devices remotely. With a cellular WAN adapter installed, a laptop user can travel and access the Internet. Common cellular WAN characteristics include the following:
■ Cellular WAN connections are powerful two-way wireless networks that have been around since the late 1970s.
■ Cellular networks operate in one of two ranges: approximately 800 MHz and approximately 1900 MHz.
■ Three generations of cellular WAN include voice-only analog, digital, and high-speed data and voice.
Although they are slower than DSL and cable connections, cellular WANs are still fast enough to be classified as a high-speed connection. To connect a laptop to a cellular WAN, you should install an adapter that is designed to work with cellular networks. A cellular adapter needs to support some or all of the following:
■ Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM): Worldwide cellular network.
■ General Packet Radio Service (GPRS): Data service for users of GSM.
■ Quad-band: Allows a cellular phone to operate on all four GSM frequencies: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 1900 MHz.
■ Short Message Service (SMS): Text messages.
■ Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS): Multimedia messages.
■ Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE): Provides increased data rates and improved data reliability.
■ Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO): Faster download rates.
Connecting to a cellular WAN is a simple process. Cellular WAN cards, as shown in Figure 13-2, are "plug and play." These cards plug in to the PC Card slot or are built in to the laptop.
Figure 13-2 Cellular WAN Card
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