Communications of the Association for Information Systems


With increasing use of small portable computers, wireless networks and satellites, a trend to support "computing on the move" has emerged. This trend is known as mobile computing or "anytime" and "anywhere" computing. Some people refer it as "Nomadic" computing. No matter which name is applied, all these terms really imply that a user may not maintain a fixed position in the network. The user is free to roam from one place to another. However the mobile user still expects uninterrupted network access and the ability to run some networked applications. To support such mobility, the user is typically provided a wireless interface to communicate with other fixed and mobile users. The mobile computing environment can be described by the following attributes (a) mobile users, (b) mobile support stations or base stations serving an area, (c) wireless interface, (d) wireless medium with varying channel characteristics (due to fading, noise, interference, etc.) and (e) various applications requiring specific support. A mobile computing environment raises such issues as how to route packets as the mobile user (hosts) moves from one place to the other and how to overcome limitations including limited bandwidth and storage. This tutorial presents an introduction to mobile computing, to the challenges introduced, and to emerging networking infrastructures for mobile computing.