LAS VEGAS--Utilizing the strengths of various wireless technologies and masking their weaknesses is critical to successfully implementing an effective integrated network, according to speakers during a Tuesday technology session at IWCE in Las Vegas.

During the session, entitled “Innovations in Wireless Data Technologies and Applications,” Pierre Catala and Joseph Morgan of the Lockard & White consultant group reviewed various technology options--including cellular, private radio and unlicensed alternatives--to create a wireless information network in an airport that could be used by airport personnel, first responders and passengers.

“There is no one solution,” said Catala, who also is a telecommunications senior lecturer at Texas A&M.

Catala repeatedly emphasized the need for network designers to build firewalls and noted potential pitfalls with each technology. For instance, he said network designers should carefully note the impact that something as simple as a microwave oven can have on wireless communications.

“The microwave radiation is lowered to a point where it’s not dangerous to your health,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous to your wireless LAN.”

Catala also offered some cautionary thoughts about the performance of mesh networks that require multiple hops through wireless routers.

“The more you repeat the signal from node to node, the more you degrade the signal-to-noise ratio, the more you’re going to increase distortion and the more you’re going to decrease the bit rate,” Catala said. “If you’re going to hop one node, you can do 10 MB/s; if you’re going to hop five nodes, it will no longer be 10 MB/s.”

In addition, Catala said there is discussion in academic circles that mesh nodes that can recognize each other and operate on the same frequency may cause their performance to be degraded if heavy traffic requires them to transmit simultaneously. This notion is contrary to assertions from wireless mesh vendors, which contend their networks are strengthened as more users enter an area.