The word "revolution" is often used flippantly, but there is little doubt that there has been a genuine revolution in three areas of telecommunications in the past 15 years.
A digital revolution has transformed the telecommunications, entertainment and broadcast industries. Information of all types - voice, music, sound, text, video, graphics and other data from myriad sensors and input devices - is now stored, processed and transmitted as numbers.
Computationally powerful but inexpensive microprocessor circuits can carry out sophisticated manipulations of information and deliver a wide variety of services that were impossible during the analogue era.
The internet revolution has had a global impact on every aspect of business and social life, and given rise to new jobs, business methods, social pastimes, vocabulary, crimes, laws and the like.
Finally, there is the astonishing global revolution in mobile communications, the full impact of which is difficult to exaggerate, but suffice it to say that it has, for example, fast-forwarded telecommunications provision in some developing countries by up to 50 years.
I often worry that the burgeoning army of salesmen and users of these technological advances is not matched by a growth in the number of graduates with expertise and unclouded insight in the subject. It was easier 15 years ago to impart to students a sound understanding of AM broadcasting than it is nowadays to guide them to a good grounding in the technology of digital audio broadcasting. The mathematical and logical analyses involved are much more complex, and many students, raised on a diet of 24/7 entertainment driven by user-friendly technology, lack the appetite to dig beyond a superficial understanding. The problem is exacerbated by a dearth of excellent books from authors expert in the subject who can communicate complex concepts with simplicity and clarity.
In Mobile Wireless Communications , Mischa Schwartz has written a well-structured book that, after a brief panoramic introduction, covers the principles of wireless communications in six chapters then offers a clear discussion of the operations of various digital wireless mobile communication systems in the final five chapters. The treatment of general principles spans traditional topics, including characterisation of the mobile radio environment, the cellular concept and channel allocations, modulation, multiple access techniques, and error control coding. The longest chapter is devoted to a discussion of second-generation mobile systems. This is followed by an analysis of admission control and handoffs, and a discussion of access and scheduling in cellular networks.
Third-generation CDMA and TDMA-based systems are the subject of another chapter. The book also includes a discussion of wireless local area networks and Bluetooth. There are numerous references to the literature for further study, and 148 end-of-chapter questions with a solutions manual available to instructors.
This book is a highly readable and step-by-step introduction to wireless communications. It lives up to the author's claim that "a student or reader of the book should come away with a thorough grounding in the fundamental aspects of mobile wireless communication, as well as an understanding of the principles of operation of second and third-generation cellular systems and wireless LANs". I will recommend it to my MSc students. The book is, however, also suitable for senior undergraduates and independent readers, although they would have benefited from the inclusion of more worked examples.
Fundamentals of Wireless Communication also covers the traditional topics on principles and contains numerous end-of-chapter exercises and ample references to the literature. The well-presented chapters are interspersed with boxed summaries and some worked examples, but the book's overall structure as a "web of interlocking concepts" is of dubious merit. A clearer step-by-step arrangement of topics would have better communicated the subject. About half the book is devoted to recent advances in mobile communications such as opportunistic communication and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) systems, making it suitable for researchers or those having a second learning encounter with mobile communications.
Ifiok Otung is principal lecturer in communication systems, Glamorgan University.
Mobile Wireless Communications
Author - Mischa Schwartz
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Pages - 457
Price - £40.00
ISBN - 0 521 84347 2