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ITU approves characteristics to promote global portability of computer equipment

Istanbul, 8 May 2000 — The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly which concluded its work on Friday, approved a set of characteristics for broadband radio local area networks (RLANS) that aim at promoting the global portability of computer equipment to respond to computer users seeking free movement with bit rates equivalent to those of conventional wired LANs.

Nomadic users of the future will no longer be bound to a desk. They want to be able to carry their computing devices with them and maintain contact with the wired LAN in a facility seamlessly.

Today, however, most users of these devices have to choose between the high-data rates and multimedia capability of wired LANs or portability. Multimedia applications and services therefore require broadband communications facilities not only for wired terminals but also for portable and personal communications devices such as laptop and palmtop computers.

Emerging broadband RLAN standards are being developed to be compatible with current wired LANs and are intended to function as a wireless extension using TCP/IP and ATM protocols, thus breaking the "bottleneck" experienced with current wireless LANs.

Broadband RLAN systems, which use high data rates of more than 20 Mbit/s, make it possible to move a computer within a certain area such as an office, a factory, a warehouse to maintain contact with lift trucks for example or a SOHO (Small Office Home Office). Broadband RLANs may be either pseudos fixed as in the case of a desktop computer that may be transported from place to place, or portable, as in the case of a laptop or palmtop devices working on batteries.

One of the most useful RLAN features is the connection of mobile computer users to their own LAN network without wires. In other words, mobile users can be connected to their own LAN subnetwork anywhere within the RLAN service area. Moreover, RLAN terminals can be used without any additional operation at other company offices where they move.

With RLAN systems starting to be marketed all over the world, the guidelines just approved by the ITU for the future development of these systems are expected to foster global portability. The guidelines take account of the different frequency bands used in different countries for RLANs and the requirement to interoperate with other wireless applications.

The Assembly also tasked experts on mobile communications to define, in cooperation with other standards-development organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the operational and technical characteristics required for future "nomadic wireless access systems", including RLANs, that would free computer-based equipment from the tyranny of wires not only in the workplace but also in public spaces.

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Updated : 2002-12-17