This free online wireless training course lesson is the introduction to the course.
In this introductory lesson, we'll first go through the lessons and topics we are going to cover one-by-one, introducing ideas and showing how each lesson builds on the previous.
Next, we'll go over the learning objectives of this course: what you will be able to do after taking this course, and the knowledge skills you will gain.
With an understanding of what we are going to cover in this course in place, the third part of this lesson is a technical introduction to radio communications – fundamental concepts, characteristics and applications.
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Sixteen online courses covering telecom, datacom and networking for non‑engineers from A-Z, plus the prestigious TCO Certified Telecommunications Analyst certification.
Includes the six CTNS courses plus
TCO Certification, Certificate and Letter of Reference.
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These words are displayed onscreen and spoken during the lesson, and published in the Certification Study Guide, in print or eBook. Many people tell us a printed book enhances their learning!
When we say “wireless”, we generally mean the use of radio, which is electromagnetic waves at frequencies measured in the GigaHertz (GHz), that is, vibrating 109 or a billion times per second.
We could, in theory, be discussing electromagnetic energy vibrating on the order of 1014, hundreds of trillion times per second (this is called light); but one of the problems we have to deal with in wireless communications is obstacles.
It turns out that the higher the frequency, the longer distance it takes for energy to refract or bend around an object.
Light does refract around objects – this is how we can tell there are planets around other suns – but the length of the shadowed area behind the object is too long for use on a terrestrial scale.
If we reduce the frequency of the energy, the length of the shadow behind an obstacle shortens.
In addition, lower-frequency energy can penetrate through objects like walls and clouds more easily (there’s a reason why fog horns are very low frequency).
For these reasons, we tend to use energy at GigaHertz frequencies, two or three hundred thousand times lower than light, and call it radio.
So we will be discussing communications centered at GigaHertz frequencies, in frequency bands with widths measured in the MegaHertz (MHz).
Radio is used in many different kinds of systems with different applications, including everything from demagogues broadcasting angry rants on talk radio shows using analog AM, to mobile cellular systems for telephone calls, web surfing and possibly watching video, trunked radio for police communications, fixed wireless to remote residences, short-range wireless LANs, geosynchronous communication satellites, Low Earth Orbit satellites and more.
Video broadcast, two-way voice communications and point-to-point digital microwave communications were the biggest applications for radio in the past. Mobile voice and data communications is a significant business in the present. In the future, wireless will be ubiquitous.
To represent information, we could take a single pure frequency (called a carrier frequency) and vary the amplitude (volume) of the carrier frequency in a continuous fashion as an analog of the sound coming out of the speaker’s mouth, or vary the frequency of the carrier as an analog of the sound. These are called Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM) respectively.
When we wish to represent 1s and 0s, we have a more complex task. Since radio bands do not include zero Hertz, sometimes called DC, pulses can not be used to represent 1s and 0s as on copper wires. Instead, it is necessary to use techniques similar to those used in telephone line modems to represent the 1s and 0s, such as shifting back and forth between specific amplitudes, frequencies or phases, or combinations thereof.
The objective of this course is to develop a solid understanding of mobile cellular communications networks and technologies.
After taking this course, you will be up to speed on the fundamental principles of cellular radio networks, components and operation, digital radio, spectrum-sharing technologies and the four generations of mobile cellular technology.
An additional objective is understanding the fundamentals of WiFi and satellites.
Lesson 1. Course Introduction
The first lesson begins the course with an overview of the course and lessons, plus general radio principles. It provides both a walkthrough of the course and a sample of the quality of the course graphics, text and presentation.
Lesson 2. Mobile Network Components, Jargon and Basic Operation
The basic components and operation of a mobile communication network, including handset, airlink, antennas, base station, transceiver, mobile switch, backhaul, registration and handoffs.
Lesson 3. Cellular Principles and AMPS (1G)
In this lesson, we’ll begin with the requirements on the communication system: mobility, coverage and capacity, then cover the idea of a cellular radio system, and how it is used to meet the coverage requirement, how frequency-division multiplexing was used to meet the capacity requirement in the first generation of “cellular”, called AMPS in North America, the implications of a handoff to implement mobility, and end the lesson with the limitations of the first generation and room for improvement.
Lesson 4. 2G: Digital Radio - Voice Communications
2G cellular involved a change to digital radio, and also saw the emergence of warring factions with different views of how the spectrum should be shared. In this lesson, we’ll examine the components of a digital radio system at a block diagram level to understand just what exactly someone means when they say “digital” radio and key aspects of the second generation of cellular.
Lesson 5. Digital Cellular: Data Communications
Next, we’ll understand how a system designed to carry digitized speech using modems, which was the subject of the last lesson, can be employed to carry anything coded into 1s and 0s. We’ll see how a “data terminal” can plug into the block diagram of the previous lesson and what it connects to, and the difference between using a cellphone as a tethered modem vs. using the cellphone as a terminal.
Lesson 6. Spectrum-Sharing Technologies:
FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, OFDM
Cellphones transmit and receive signals over shared radio bands. To separate users so that they do not interfere with one another, nor hear each other’s conversations, service providers use one of four radio band or spectrum sharing methods: Frequency-Division Multiple Access (FDMA), Time-Division Multiple Access (TDMA), Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM).
In this lesson, we’ll begin to sort out these technologies. We’ll explain how FDMA, TDMA, CDMA and OFDM work, and in this lesson how they were deployed for first and second generation with names like AMPS, GSM, TDMA (IS-136), and 2G CDMA (IS-95).
In subsequent lessons, we’ll take a closer look at CDMA for third generation (UMTS and 1X), then 4G LTE which uses OFDM.
Lesson 7. 3G Cellular: CDMA
In this lesson, we’ll cover 3G mobile cellular radio technologies: how the quest for an international standard to resolve the I-95 CDMA vs. GSM TDMA incompatibility led to a Frankenstein standard called IMT-2000, with five incompatible variations for implementing 3G, and how two of them were of most interest: IMT-MC, also known as 1X, and IMT-DS, also known as UMTS, both employing CDMA technology. We’ll cover the data-optimized variations of the two, 1XEV-DO and HSPA respectively, and the capitulation of the 1X camp to the UMTS camp’s plan for 4G – probably pushed past the tipping point by Steve Jobs and his iPhone – and how that led to the widespread deployment of HSPA for 3G.
Lesson 8. 4G Mobile Cellular
In the last lesson on mobility, we’ll explore the technology that emerged as the consensus for 4G: the fourth generation of mobile cellular radio communications, called LTE, and the spectrum-sharing technology it employs called OFDM.
Lesson 9. 802.11 Wireless LANs – WiFi
Here, we provide an overview of the 802.11 wireless LAN standards, sometimes referred to as WiFi and hotspots.
We concentrate on understanding the variations of 802.11, the frequency bands they operate in, bit rates to be expected and practical issues.
Since 802.11 is wireless LANs, there are a number of associated topics: LAN frames, also called MAC frames, MAC addresses, LAN switches, IP addresses, routers and network address translation.
Those topics are covered in other courses, particularly “Ethernet, LANs and VLANs”, “Introduction to Datacom and Networking” and “IP Networks, Routers and Addresses”.
In this course, we concentrate on radio.
Lesson 10. Communication Satellites
In this last lesson of the course, we will take a quick overview of communication satellites, understanding the basic principles and the advantages and disadvantages of the two main strategies: Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and Low Earth Orbit.
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Like Teracom's famous core training Course 101 "Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers", our very popular core training DVD-Video packages and the Telecom 101 textbook, the Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist Certification Package begins with the Public Switched Telephone Network, then a course on Wireless Telecommunications, followed by four courses covering IP telecommunications and IP telecom networks.
If you are interested only in IP telecommunications, the CIPTS: Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package may be appropriate, as it skips the traditional telephony and wireless and goes directly to the IP telecommunications courses.
If your goal is to build a full, rounded knowledge of telecommunications, then understanding the history, structure and operation of the telephone network built over the past 135 years or more is the starting point for everything else.
We begin with a history lesson, understanding how and why telephone networks and the companies that provide them are organized into local access and inter-city transmission, or as we will see, Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and Inter-Exchange Carriers (IXCs).
Then we will establish a basic model for the PSTN and understand its main components: Customer Premise, Central Office, loop, trunk, outside plant, circuit switching, attenuation, loop length, remotes, and why knowledge of the characteristics of the loop remains essential knowledge even though we are moving to Voice over IP.
Next, we'll cover aspects of telephony and Plain Ordinary Telephone Service, including analog, the voiceband, twisted pair, supervision and signaling including DTMF. The course is completed with an overview of SS7, the control system for the telephone network in the US and Canada.
On completion of this course, you will be able to draw a model of the Public Switched Telephone Network, identify and explain its components and technologies including:
In many parts of the world, particularly outside Canada, the US and Western Europe, the physical telephone network is wireless, as deploying radio transceivers is far cheaper than embarking on a new project to pull copper wires and/or fiber to every residence.
Most of this course is devoted to mobile wireless telecommunications. We begin with basic concepts and terminology including base stations and transceivers, mobile switches and backhaul, handoffs, cellular radio concepts and digital radio concepts.
Then, we cover spectrum-sharing technologies and their variations in chronological order: GSM/TDMA vs. CDMA for second generation, 1X vs. UMTS CDMA for third generation along with their data-optimized 1XEV-DO and HSPA, how Steve Jobs ended the standards wars with the iPhone and explaining the OFDM spectrum-sharing method of LTE for 4G.
This course is completed with a lesson on WiFi, or more precisely, 802.11 wireless LANs, and a lesson on satellite communications.
You'll gain a solid understanding of the key principles of wireless and mobile networks:
The remaining four courses in the CTNS package are on the "IP" telecommunications network and its three main enabling technologies: Ethernet, IP and MPLS, and beginning with the OSI model and its layers to establish a framework.
If you'd prefer to take just these four "IP" courses, check out the Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package.
This course establishes a framework for all of the subsequent discussions: the OSI 7-Layer Reference Model, which identifies and divides the functions to be performed into groups called layers.
This framework is required to sort out the many functions that need to be performed, and to be able to discuss separate issues separately.
First, we'll define the term "protocol" and compare that to a standard. Then we'll define "layer" and how a layered architecture operates, and provide an overview of the name, purpose and function of each of the seven layers in the OSI model.
Then, we'll go back through the story more slowly, with one lesson for each of the layers, examining in greater detail the functions that have to be performed and giving examples of protocols and how and where they are used to implement particular layers.
The result is a protocol stack, one protocol on top of another on top of another to fulfill all of the required functions. To make this more understandable, this course ends with the famous FedEx Analogy illustrating the concepts using company-to-company communications, and an analogy of Babushka dolls to illustrate how the protocol headers are nested at the bits level.
On completion of this course, you will be able to:
On completion of this course, you will be able to explain:
MPLS and Carrier Networks is a comprehensive, up-to-date course on the networks companies like AT&T build and operate, how they are implemented, the services they offer, and how customers connect to the network.
The IP packets and routing of the previous course is one part of the story. Performance guarantees, and methods for quality of service, traffic management, aggregation and integration is another big part of the story, particularly once we leave the lab and venture into the real world and the business of telecommunications services.
We'll begin by establishing a basic model for a customer obtaining service from a provider, defining Customer Edge, Provider Edge, access and core, and a Service Level Agreement: traffic profile vs. transmission characteristics.
Next, we'll understand virtual circuits, a powerful tool used for traffic management and how they are implemented with MPLS, explaining the equipment, jargon and principles of operation.
Without bogging down on details, we’ll cut through buzzwords and marketing to demystify:
Teracom is an Accredited Training Partner of the Telecommunications Certification Organization, authorized to administer exams for TCO certifications on the myTeracom Learning Management System and award TCO Certifications.
TCO Certification is proof of your knowledge of telecom, datacom and networking fundamentals, jargon, buzzwords, technologies and solutions.
It's backed up with a Certificate suitable for framing - plus a personalized Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction detailing the knowledge your TCO Certification represents and inviting the recipient to contact Teracom for verification.
You may list Teracom Training Institute as a reference on your résumé if desired.
Each course has a course exam, consisting of ten multiple-choice questions chosen at random from a pool and shuffled in order. Passing the course exams proves your knowledge of these topics and results in your certification as a Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist.
Your Certificate and Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction will be immediately available for download from your Dashboard in the myTeracom Learning Management System. You may also order a signed and sealed Certificate by airmail.
Choosing the "Unlimited Plan" at registration allows you to repeat courses and/or exams at no additional charge – which means guaranteed to pass if you're willing to learn.
Alternatively, if you like this discounted package of courses, but don't need the certification – or don't feel like writing exams – no problem! Take the Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers course package, which includes the same courses as the CTNS certification package, without the certification exams.
One benefit of TCO certification is differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd when applying for a job or angling for a promotion.
The knowledge you gain taking Teracom's Online Courses, confirmed with TCO Certification, is foundational knowledge in telecommunications, IP, networking and wireless: fundamental concepts, mainstream technologies, jargon, buzzwords, and the underlying ideas - and how it all fits together.
This type of knowledge and preparation makes you an ideal candidate to hire or promote to a task, as you will be able to build on your knowledge base to quickly get up to speed and work on a particular project - then have the versatility to work on subsequent projects.
TCO Certification will help demonstrate you have this skill... a desirable thought to have in your potential manager's mind.
Take advantage of these courses for individual learning, a team, or for an entire organization.
The scalable myTeracom Learning Management System can register and manage all of your people through their courses, lessons and exams, and generate management reports showing progress and scores with the click of a button.
For larger organizations, the courses and exams can also be licensed and deployed on an organization's internal LMS.
Teracom certification packages are an extremely cost-effective way of implementing consistent, comprehensive telecommunications and networking technology fundamentals training, ensuring that both existing resources and new hires are up to the same speed, with a common vocabulary, framework and knowledge base.
The course exams provide concrete measurements of competency in key knowledge areas. Management can view the progress and results of all team members and export the results to Excel with the click of a button.
These reports identify skills deficiencies and strengths, and provide tangible proof of return on investment and team readiness for reports to upper management.