The iPhone 5 And Wireless Network Engineering


The technology world is buzzing about the latest Apple product, the iPhone 5. This new entry into the famous smart phone series is not a huge leap forward in terms of technology. However, it is causing quite a stir, selling millions of units and causing network administrators to consider what changes they might need to make in order to accommodate this new device.

Wireless Networking Considerations

The iPhone 5 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by including an 802.11 type N wireless transceiver. In addition to support for older and more prevalent standards such as 802.11 types G, B and A, support for the N protocol means that this smart phone is capable of very high wireless transfer rates. Under good conditions, over 150 megabits per second can be achieved. This is nearly three times faster than 802.11 type G. Most wireless access points and networks support 802.11 type G and B. Type A is mostly obsolete at this point in time. Although users of the iPhone 5 will be able to connect to these networks, they will not be able to achieve the highest possible speeds.

It is worth mentioning that most Internet connections top out below 16 megabits per second. This means that the 802.11 type G standard provides more than enough bandwidth to fully utilize the connection. 802.11 type N is most useful in home and business applications where multiple computers need to be able to communicate very rapidly. Examples of this include streaming high-definition video, streaming audio, performing live video teleconferencing and performing large file transfers. For these applications, 802.11 type N will provide substantial benefits. However, it is important to note that a wired network operating at 1-10 gigabits per second will provide superior performance. Again, Internet connectivity speed is usually unaffected by local area network speed.

Spectrum Saturation

It was seen when Apple demonstrated iPhone and iPad products in the past that a large number of nearby 802.11 devices can cause interference with the product (any telecom consulting company that works with mobile network optimization will tell you this. This is also the case with the iPhone 5. Spectrum saturation issues can arise when many devices are vying for the same communication channels. A good way to avoid this is to spread out the portions of the spectrum that are being used on nearby access points. If a single location, such as a sports stadium, library, coffee shop or other popular venue is using multiple access points, it may be a good idea to choose a different channel for each device. Depending upon the country where the devices are being operated, different frequency ranges will be available. Note that come frequencies are not legal to use in certain areas.

Increasing Network Range

Network range can be improved by raising transmission power. An option to adjust this parameter is often available in wireless access points’ configuration utilities. In particular, a reasonably fine adjustment can be found in OpenWRT, DD-WRT and Tomato firmware distributions. Note, however, that increasing the power can be illegal depending upon your legal jurisdiction. Be sure to consult local laws to find out what transmission power levels are legal in the frequency ranges that you are using. In the case of the iPhone 5, note that the distance that the phone can transmit is significantly less than the distance that the access point can.

Take all of these factors into account when you are designing or updating a wireless network that will service iPhone 5 devices.

This article was written by Jet Russell. In his spare time Jet likes to write articles about anything from Internet marketing, to logistics, to gardening and basketball.

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