For nearly a century, voice communications networks have been king of the hill. The growth of the Internet in the 1990’s has given rise to the need for data communications networks that are as well developed and flexible as the voice networks that are currently in place. Broadband connectivity has become available in certain places using the wired infrastructure of Telephone and CATV companies, but the coverage provided by these systems is far from ubiquitous. While these systems can address the low speed data requirements of many individual users, the high speed (>2 Mbps) data communications requirements of corporate entities cannot be easily and economically met using copper wires. Fiber optics can and does offer the possibility of enormous speeds, but operational fiber cable to the home or business is not commonly available, and will not be for the foreseeable future.
In addition, the need for instant data is becoming as urgent as the need for instant voice communications. Instant voice communications needs are met by cellularlike services. Although these same providers have begun to offer data services, just like their wired counterparts, their speeds are constrained by the limitations inherent in systems that were originally designed for voice communications.
Wireless-based data networks have the ability to meet the data requirements of corporate networks as well as the broadband fixed and mobile requirements of individuals. There are numerous spectral allocations that can be used to provide these services, and while some are licensed, thus limiting their deployment to those who have access to the spectrum, others are not. It is in this unlicensed spectrum where many wireless data needs are being met.