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ITEC417 Wireless Communications and Security

Introduction to Wireless Communications

ITEC417 Wireless Communications and Security


  • Describe the various types of wireless communications technologies used today
  • Discuss some trends in wireless data communications
  • Outline the advantages and challenges of wireless communications technology

Wireless Communications Technologies

  • Wireless: describes all types of devices and technologies not connected by a wire
  • Wireless communications: transmission of digital data without the use of wires
  • Various forms of wireless data communications:
    • Wi-Fi-based wireless LANs
    • Bluetooth
    • ZigBee
    • WiGig
    • Satellite
    • Cellular
    • Fixed broadband wireless communications

Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN)

Wi-Fi or Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)

ITEC417 Wireless Communications and Security
  • Allows you to access all digital-data-enabled devices in the house

Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN)

  • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
    • Extension of a wired LAN
  • Connecting to it through a device called a wireless access point
  • Access point (AP or wireless AP)
    • Relays data signals among all of the devices on the wired network
  • Each computer on the WLAN has a wireless network interface card (NIC)
    • Used to communicate with your wireless residential gateway (often called a wireless router)

Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN)

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standards
  • Established a series WLAN standards
  • One of the latest standards provides for data transmission speeds of over 1 Gigabit per second
  • Virtually all smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers are able to connect to a Wi-Fi network
  • A few newer appliances include the ability to connect to the Internet
    • Allows you to control them from wherever you may be


– Wireless standard designed for very short ranges

  • Typically a few inches to 33 feet (10 meters)

– Main purpose is to eliminate cables between devices

  • Bluetooth communicates using small, low-power transceivers called radio modules
  • Link manager

– Special software that helps identify other Bluetooth devices, create a link between them, and send and receive digital data

  • Common implementations of Bluetooth:
    • Headphones/headsets
    • Smart TVs
    • Keyboard/mouse
    • Transfer pictures and files between tablets
    • Connecting smartphones to car audio systems
  • iBeacon
    • Technology that uses Bluetooth
    • Used to deliver coupons and direct customers to sale items while shopping
  • Bluetooth is also used to connect smartwatches to smartphones and laptops
  • Piconet
    • Wireless personal area network (WPAN)
    • Consists of two or more Bluetooth devices that are exchanging data with each other
  • Up seven devices can belong to a single WPAN


  • ZigBee
    • A wireless communications specification based on IEEE standard 802.15.4
    • Designed for applications that require devices with long battery life and can transmit data at distances of between 33 and 50 feet
  • To pass certification
    • Battery life on ZigBee devices must be at least 2 years
  • Maximum data rate for ZigBee is 250 Kbps
  • ZigBee-enabled devices can save power by turning off their transmitters for long periods of time
    • Only wake up periodically to check status of network
  • Most smart LED light bulbs support the ZigBee protocol and can be controlled by a central hub
    • Accessed from a smartphone app
  • ZigBee is used for automating entire commercial buildings
    • Specification covers several other applications in addition to home and building automation


  • WiGig
  • Another short-range wireless technology designed for use primarily in the home
  • Can transfer video and sound at speeds between 7 Gbps and 10 Gbps using Ultra Wide Band (UWB)
  • Distance: up to 2 meters at these high speeds
  • Use is confined to the space within a room with few or no obstacles


  • Radio frequency identification (RFID)

– Short-distance wireless technology – Developed to replace barcodes – Advantage over barcodes:

  • Information can be read from the tag regardless of whether it is visible

– RFID tags are small chips containing a CPU, memory, and other electronic circuitry plus an antenna


  • RFID reader emits electromagnetic waves that provide a small amount of current in the tag antenna
    • The current powers the chip in the tag, which in turn transmits the information stored in the tag’s memory back to the reader
  • Some RFID tags are called active tags
    • Are battery-powered and have a longer range
  • Common use for RFID today is for inventory control
    • Some airlines use RFID to identify luggage


  • Near field communication (NFC)
  • Very similar to RFID
  • Some RFID equipment can also read NFC tags
  • Intended to work at an average distance of about 2 to 4 inches
  • Transmission speed is approximately 250 Kbps
  • Can include more flexible information like web addresses, commands, or instructions
  • Smartphones and tablets equipped with NFC are sometimes able to write on the tags

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