Page 14 - Winter 2018 Travelore Issue 44
P. 14

Page 14 - DRVC Travelore
Untethered Part Two
Digital Connections while On the Road
by Byron Songer, VP Publications
The following article is can be viewed as a follow-up to one I wrote for the June 2018 issue of Travelore. It can also be viewed as a standalone article about wireless technology.
Whether you’ve asked yourselves these questions, they have probably crossed your mind even if only in a subliminal fashion. This brief article
may help you in understanding some of the chal- lenges and, perhaps, will provide a direction you
can go for a solution that works for you.
Let’s start with the basic stuff; defining what is meant by the word “wireless”. I will be the first to tell you that it comes straight from the
world of technology where “it depends” is absolutely vital to understanding. We live in a wireless world. In coming from a wired world, it can seem daunting to figure out what is meant. Simply put, in the 21st century it means connecting things without using wires. For instance, the remote control for your television is wireless. Those old things we called portable phones that were connected to land lines worked wirelessly if you could talk and roam around the house at the same time. Then came cell phones and the ability to have a personal communicating device
to have with you in the car or walking down the street. They worked wirelessly. The next great invention in the consumer space was wireless networking. This meant you could be anywhere in your house and still use a laptop computer without plugging into a network cable because you had a WiFi router placed somewhere out of sight. Then came smart devices and always-connected capabilities while accessing the Internet wirelessly.
A Wireless Primer
All of these devices are “wireless” because the do not use cables to devices or appliances. They also have something else in common; radios tuned to specific frequencies or channels to enable them to “do their thing.” And this is where it gets confusing for many consumers: How can I tell the difference? After asking this question the next one probably comes into play: What kind of performance can I expect?
These are great questions. They are ones I’ll briefly address.
1) Not all wireless communication is equal. The primary reason is that the FCC has provisioned the wide spec- trum of radio frequencies and assigned certain fre- quencies and channels (which are divided frequencies) for particular uses across the United States. This is to insure that your cell phone doesn’t interfere with your television or car radio. Devices, to comply with FCC regulations, must communicate within an assigned spectrum or a specific channel.
2) Cellular voice and data don’t communicate at the same level. Ever wonder why you can make a cell phone
call but can’t get an text message to go through? The answer is simple. Voice communication and data (the basis of network computing) must operate at different frequencies. (Yes, your cell phone actually has more than one radio installed in it.)
3) WiFi (the trade name for wireless fidelity data net- working) is not the same as Bluetooth or cellular voice/ data communication. This is really confusing to many consumers. As common as WiFi has become, it remains a mystery to many. The main reason for this is a lack
of adequate education (concern for) understanding. People just expect it to work magically simply because they paid for it.
Ranges of Capability
I now turn my attention to developing an understanding of the effectiveness and reasons for existence of the wide variety of wireless technologies. Hang with me, please, because I want to make this as simple as possible.
1) Infrared - This is probably one of the oldest wireless methods around. Nearly all remote controls oper-
ate using this technology. It is direct line-of-sight.
In other words, there must be a clear path between devices. If anything gets in the way, the remote control will not communicate with the host device whether it’s a TV or a DVD player.
2) Bluetooth - Many people begin to understand when the explanation is given that Bluetooth is the wireless equivalent to USB. Having said that, it is designed for “peripheral” devices such as a printer, scanner, head- phone, earphone, or whatever. Bluetooth is effective
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