Characteristics of Mobility in Wireless Networking

Instructor: Lyna Griffin

Lyna has tutored undergraduate Information Management Systems and Database Development. She has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Information Technology.

In this lesson we will cover the characteristics of different kinds of mobility exhibited by users of wireless networks. Each pattern presents unique requirements for wireless networks, as they ensure uninterruptible service despite diverse needs.

Mobility and Wireless Networks

The uniqueness of wireless networks is their ability to provide dynamic network connectivity for users, devices, services, and applications without being tethered to any wired hardware. As such, wireless technology is expected to cater to different types of mobility characteristics. The following section details the different types of mobility that wireless networks are subjected to, and their characteristics.

Types of Mobility and their Characteristics

The different characteristics which are described below - with respect to signal strength using wireless networks - can best be understood by imagining chasing (or just keeping an eye on) a toddler under varying conditions. One condition might be a clear, straight, running track with you chasing the toddler down such a track. Another might be trying to chase (or even keep an eye on) that same toddler when you are both in an amusement park full of things that make continuous eye contact nearly impossible. Chasing in an amusement park becomes a nightmare - because of the numerous obstacles and distractions contending for attention or impeding your view. Here are some of the patterns this notion of individual mobility versus staying in contact imply:

  • Pedestrian Mobility
  • Marine and Submarine Mobility
  • Earthbound Vehicular Mobility
  • Aerial Mobility
  • Medium-based Mobility (different kinds of intervening strata)
  • Outer Space Mobility

Pedestrian Mobility

Pedestrian Mobility refers to the mobility of a person on foot (walking or running) and not traveling in a vehicle.

Pedestrian Mobility is characterized by:

  • Slow speeds
  • Signal navigation of numerous obstacles (movement inside buildings which includes people and furniture; movement from building to building and among moving traffic on the street)
  • Applicability to living people and animals (observation)
  • The use of two-dimensional space
  • Non-organized structure (autonomous agents, therefore less predictable)
  • Group mobility (many people on the same network moving together)
  • Limited energy resources

Marine and Submarine Mobility

Marine and Submarine mobility refers to the mobility of a person or node via the sea. The sea presents different 'environmental' challenges to the radio signal.

Marine mobility is characterized by:

  • Limited speeds due to water friction/resistance and contrary wind speeds
  • Underwater movement that is two-dimensional
  • Mobility is seldom in groups
  • Optimal surface signal transmission but which drastically deteriorates below the surface of the water

Earthbound Vehicular Mobility

Mobility in Earthbound Vehicular Mobility refers to movement on wheels - from bicycles and motor bikes to cars and railways.

The mobility of earthbound vehicles is characterized by:

  • Higher speeds compared to pedestrian and marine mobility
  • Mobility which is mostly one-dimensional (one direction)
  • More complex group behavior (passengers in a moving train traversing different cabins)
  • Signal refraction from the environment causing poor signal strength (movement between buildings, under tunnels, and adjacent vehicular traffic)

Aerial Mobility

Aerial Mobility refers to movement of people and nodes by air (airplanes helicopters and drones) as well as animal pattern monitoring (bird migration).

Aerial Mobility is characterized by:

  • Extremely high speeds compared to earthbound movement and marine movement
  • Long distance (geographical distances) travel and high altitudes (signal coverage limitations)
  • Motion which is two-dimensional with the exception of aerial combat

Medium-based Mobility

Any form of resistance in the medium through which the signal is transmitted becomes a factor that affects signal strength. Therefore environmental behavior such as tornadoes and hurricanes that present high-speed winds and erratic propelling of obstacles significantly affects signal strength.

Medium-based Mobility wherein the media itself (the strata) makes a difference is characterized by:

  • Speeds determined by the environment
  • Unpredictable 1, 2, and 3-dimensional movement
  • Occurrence of group mobility due to the dangers it presents (e.g. evacuation of people in masses)
  • Dynamic location information

Outer Space Mobility

Outer Space Mobility is movement beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Gravity is not a reliable factor in outer space which makes movement in space unique.

Outer space movement is characterized by

  • Limited vehicular acceleration
  • Limited running resources (fuel)
  • Motion characterized by drifting
  • Non-circular orbiting
  • No group behaviors
  • Optimal signal transmission (negligible obstructions)

Examining all the different types of mobility patterns we realize that the challenges of wireless networks in all instances have three common denominators:

  1. Establishing connection with users and nodes irrespective of their location
  2. Maintaining a connection while both are in motion
  3. Overcoming obstacles to the above

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