The functionality of mobile devices has grown exponentially in recent times. This has led to smart phones and the mobile Internet becoming a big success story. IEEE 802.11 wireless local area network, known as Wi-Fi, has become a standard feature on these devices and represents a viable alternative to using a mobile phone provider's network for connectivity. Users can surf the web, make VoIP calls, and more from their home WLAN networks or public hotspots. At present WLAN has too many outstanding issues to universally replace existing mobile phone networks. However, WLAN is ready to provide universal coverage for mobile devices in large controlled environments such as university and business campuses, sports stadia, and entertainment parks. In this article we outline the challenges in such a deployment and describe how the state of the art in WLAN can meet these challenges. Outstanding issues and areas requiring improvement are highlighted. With a view to overcoming these hurdles, some potential solutions and promising research directions are outlined. © 2006 IEEE.
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