Wireles Networking is a practical guide to planning and building low-cost telecommunications infrastructure. See the editorial for more information....

Where to Begin

This book was created by a team of individuals who each, in their own field, are actively participating in the ever-expanding Internet by pushing its reach farther than ever before. The massive popularity of wireless networking has caused equipment costs to continually plummet, while equipment capabilities continue to sharply increase. We believe that by taking advantage of this state of affairs, people can finally begin to have a stake in building their own communications infrastructure. We hope to not only convince you that this is possible, but also show how we have done it, and to give you the information and tools you need to start a network project in your local community.

Wireless infrastructure can be built for very little cost compared to traditional wired alternatives. But building wireless networks is only partly about saving money. By providing people in your local community with cheaper and easier access to information, they will directly benefit from what the Internet has to offer. The time and effort saved by having access to the global network of information translates into wealth on a local scale, as more work can be done in less time and with less effort.

Likewise, the network becomes all the more valuable as more people are connected to it. Communities connected to the Internet at high speed have a voice in a global marketplace, where transactions happen around the world at the speed of light. People all over the world are finding that Internet access gives them a voice to discuss their problems, politics, and whatever else is important to their lives, in a way that the telephone and television simply cannot compete with. What has until recently sounded like science fiction is now becoming a reality, and that reality is being built on wireless networks.

But even without access to the Internet, wireless community networks have tremendous value. They allow people to collaborate on projects across wide distances. Voice communications, email, and other data can be exchanged for very little cost. By involving local people in the construction of the network, knowledge and trust are spread throughout the community, and people begin to understand the importance of having a share in their communications infrastructure. Ultimately, they realize that communication networks are built to allow people to connect with each other.

In this book we will focus on wireless data networking technologies in the

802.11 family. While such a network can carry data, voice, and video (as well as traditional web and Internet traffic), the networks described in this book are data networks. We specifically do not cover GSM, CDMA, or other wireless voice technologies, since the cost of deploying these technologies is well beyond the reach of most community projects.

Last Update: 2007-01-04