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Networking Fundamentals: Wide, Local and Personal Area Communications

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Information networking has emerged as a multidisciplinary diversified area of research over the past few decades. From traditional wired telephony to cellular voice telephony and from wired access to wireless access to the Internet, information networks have profoundly impacted our lifestyle. At the time of writing, over 3 billion people are subscribed to cellular services and close to a billion residences have Internet connections. More recently, the popularity of smartphones enabling the fusion of computers, networking, and navigation for location-aware multimedia mobile networking has opened a new way of attachment between the human being and information networking gadgets. In response to this growth, universities and other educational institutions have to prepare their students in understanding these technologies.

Information networking is a multidisciplinary technology. To understand this industry and its technology, we need to learn a number of disciplines and develop an intuitive feeling for how these disciplines interact with one another. To achieve this goal, we describe important networking standards, classify their underlying technologies in a logical manner, and give detailed examples of successful technologies. The selection of detailed technical material for teaching in such a large and multidisciplinary field is very challenging, because the emphasis of the technology shifts in time. In the 1970s and 1980s the emphasis of industry and, subsequently, the interest in teaching networks were primarily based on queuing techniques [Kle75, Sch87, Ber87] because, at that time, medium access control was playing an important role in differentiating local-area network (LAN) technologies such as Ethernet, token ring and token bus. At that time, researchers and educators were interested in understanding the random behavior of traffic in contention access on computer resources and performance issues such as throughput and delay. The next generation of textbooks in the 1990s was around details of protocols used in the seven-layer ISO model, and they were written mostly by professors of computer science [Tan03, Pet07, Kur01]. During this period, authors with an electrical engineering education would introduce similar material with more emphasis on physical channels [e.g. Sta00]. These books described the Internet and asynchronous transfer mode as examples for wide-area networks (WANs) and provided details of a variety of LAN technologies at different levels of depth. They lacked adequate details in describing the cellular and other wireless networks that have been the center of attention in recent years for innovative networking.

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