Kelechi Ajoku

Who remembers those landlines with very long wires we had in our kitchens, or when we had no other choice but to sit at a particular desk to access the Internet?  Thanks to technology, we can now access the Internet in the comfort of our beds since technology has granted us the luxury of wireless Internet,

The idea of wireless was introduced in 1970 and has, since the Internet became widespread in the late 1990s, been one of the greatest things that has  happened in the history of the Internet. We can conveniently connect to the Internet from our bedrooms, gardens and favorite coffee shops as opposed to being limited to a particular desk closest to the wired connection. Today we see two kinds of wireless networks. The first kind and the one we all know is a wireless network built on-top of a wired Network. Simply put, your router is connected to the wall through a wire, while your PC and that of your friends or family are connected to the router wirelessly,

The other kind, and the focus of this article, is called the “infrastructure-less” connection.

This network is referred to as infrastructure-less because neither a router nor base-station is required to attain a connection, like the other wireless connections. Did you know that it is possible to exchange data between laptops without the Internet? And I’m not talking about USB’s or external hard drives. It can be done via a network over a connection; this type of connection is popularly known as an AD-HOC network. Ad-hoc is a Latin term, which means “for this purpose”. Ad-hoc networks therefore refer to networks created for a particular purpose. A network as we all know is a connection of nodes, people, whatever, allowing them to communicate with each other, and an ad-hoc network is therefore a connection comprising  of a group of workstations or other wireless devices (computers, phones ,game consoles etc) which communicate directly with each other to exchange information.

Ad-hoc networks are generally built in a closed system; in other words, there’s no connection to an external public, or private network. This type of network is typically created between participants of the network, a master node (the creator of the network), requests connection from the other nodes and on their acceptance, a connection is established and a network, formed. If one of the participants has a connection to a public or private network, this connection can be shared among members of the ad hoc network. This will allow other users on the ad hoc network to connect to the Internet as well.

The initial thought was that ad-hoc would be perfect for communication amongst military men in the battlefield where there is usually no infrastructure for communication at all. Today, it has become one of the most popular Internet networks, operational in the modern day offices and for effective communication within groups of people with laptops and other hand-held devices. Interestingly, ad-hoc networks are common for portable video game systems like Sony PSP or Nintendo DS, too.

Another usage is communication networks for supporting rescue personnel in disaster areas – example: during an earthquake. Furthermore, it can be used in vehicles to find and calculate the traffic in a road. This is done via IVC (Inter Vehicular Communication). Ad-hoc wireless connections are being used to enhance sensor networks, meeting rooms, sports stadiums, boats, aircrafts and many other concepts.