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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Mobile Telecommunications Factbook", Nathan J. Muller

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKMBTLFB.RVW 981031 Mobile Telecommunications Factbook , Nathan J. Muller, 1998, 0-07-044461-7, U$29.95 %A Nathan J. Muller nmuller@ddx.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 1999
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      BKMBTLFB.RVW 981031

      "Mobile Telecommunications Factbook", Nathan J. Muller, 1998,
      0-07-044461-7, U$29.95
      %A Nathan J. Muller nmuller@... nathan_muller@...
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 1998
      %G 0-07-044461-7
      %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
      %O U$29.95 905-430-5000 fax: 905-430-5020 lisah@...
      %P 445 p.
      %T "Mobile Telecommunications Factbook"

      The preface meanders through a variety of topics related to wireless
      communications, but never really says who the book is for. Another
      bad sign is that, towards the end, it notes that the book will
      concentrate on "practical" aspects of mobile telecom, rather than the
      technology (although I note that the author maintains an engineering
      mystique by stating specific frequencies at any and all
      opportunities), and then mentions some topics that have nothing to do
      with mobile or wireless at all.

      Chapter one is primarily concerned with cellular or PCS phone service.
      The lack of a technical mandate is obvious, since this is little more
      than a list (admittedly extensive) of available services. However,
      there is also a rather strange inclusion of Internet telephony towards
      the end, leaning heavily to the various commercial IP telephony
      offerings. Mobile messaging, in chapter two, is a rather startling
      grab bag of two way paging, a somewhat skewed look at email, fax, and
      even Usenet news. Mobile computing, while it is based on currently
      available technologies, seems to assume that certain proposed
      directions will become fact, in chapter three. Chapter four looks at
      remote access. A rather constricted review of remote monitoring is
      given in chapter five, and it is difficult to tell the selection
      criteria for what was included or left out.

      Chapter six briefly discusses a very wide variety of security risks
      and protections, including such topics as ticket granting systems and
      firewalls. Because of the number of subjects, the security review of
      each is quite terse. Wireless PBX service is examined in chapter
      seven. The tutorial on wireless LANs in chapter eight isn't bad
      except for a hilarious misexplanation of spread spectrum. Chapter
      nine is a brief overview of the wireless local loop. Web based
      management, in chapter ten, does manage to mention some central
      protocols, but the emphasis ensures an unfocussed approach. CDPD
      (Cellular Digital Packet Data) has been mentioned is several prior
      places, so chapter eleven is, essentially, the technical review that
      the preface promised we'd avoid. A number of satellite communications
      providers are listed in chapter twelve. I was intrigued that chapter
      thirteen was given over to descriptions of technologies, but, given
      the failure to explain spread spectrum earlier I was completely
      unsurprised that an exegesis of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)
      is deftly avoided. Chapter fourteen is pretty close to the usual blue
      sky version of telework.

      As usual, this type of shotgun approach to communications technology
      serves nobody very well. Telecommunications users may get some
      interesting ideas from various sections, but the book covers such a
      broad range of topics that it seems a bit of a waste to, for example,
      buy the whole thing just to get some idea of the various types of
      voice mail that you local providers may or may not offer.
      Professionals, certainly, will find that explanations rarely go into
      sufficient detail, and that topics tend to be viewed from only one of
      many possible sides. By and large, the promise that the reader will
      not be burdened by technology is kept. The only problem with that
      promise is that the reader is not very burdened with useful
      information.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998 BKMBTLFB.RVW 981031

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