Understanding Wireless LAN Networking
by Allan Ampoloquio
Understanding wireless and wireless LAN networking enable you to properly plan
and design the effective deployment of wireless networks be it home-networking
or using outdoor long-range WLAN for rural internet connectivity.
Wireless networking allows computers and peripherals to communicate using radio
frequency (RF) transmissions rather than over conventional network cabling.
Using wireless Ethernet adaptors, any device capable of being used on a regular
computer network can be accessed over a wireless connection for task ranging
from file and printer sharing to multimedia and internet access.
Wireless Ethernet Technology is outlined by a set of standards called IEEE
802.11. Although other wireless technologies and protocols exist, the term
wireless is generally used in reference to the IEEE 802.11 standards.
The communication protocols for wireless networking are defined by the Institute
of Electrical Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standard, which incorporates the 802.11a,
802.11b and 802.11g protocols (although other standards are in progress). The
most widely used of these is 802.11b (Wireless-B), which is more reliable than
the faster 802.11a (Wireless-A) standard, and is more cost-effective to produce
and operate as well.
Wireless-G or 802.11g, is a newer protocol that is becoming more widely adopted
by vendors as it is capable of speeds up to 54Mbps rather than the 11Mbps of 802.11b devices.
It is no longer rare to find devices that support all three standards, but
generally, Wireless-G is designed to be backwards compatible with Wireless-B
devices. Thus Wireless-B and Wireless-A devices will not work with each other,
and neither are they compatible with Wireless-G devices.
Some manufacturers offer models with dual-band (Wireless A & G/B) auto-switch
mode for greater communication flexibility. Network planners can plan their
network deployment by using a combination of Wireless-B,G or A.
Wireless 802.11 standard utilizes the license-free radio frequency bands around
the 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz ranges. The 802.11b and 802.11g protocols use the 2.4GHz
band whereas 802.11a uses the 5GHz band. Wireless-B is by far the most popular
standard, with the newer Wireless-G (802.11g) and Wireless-A (802.11a) closing in fast.
Wi-FI or Wireless Fidelity is a certification program established by the Wi-Fi
Alliance to ensure interoperability of wireless devices. Originally, the term
Wi-Fi was intended to be interchangeable with 802.11b, but more recently it has
broadened to cover any 802.11 network.
WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network, is a computer network -or part thereof-
that incorporates wireless devices. In a WLAN network, a conventional LAN set-up
can be extended to include wireless devices using an access point. Although
wireless networks can be completely independent of conventional network, WLAN
usually forms part of an existing wired network.