An Introduction to Wireless Networking Hardware

Today, our world revolves around wireless networking.

Almost everything that we use in our day to day life at work is supported by wireless networking. What really is wireless networking?

Wireless networking means the technology which enables two or more computers to communicate with each other with the help of standard network protocols but without thenetwork cabling.

Any technology which performs this function can be referred to as wireless networking. However, the term is really used to refer to WLAN or wireless LANs. WLAN is a group of network components which are connected to the electromagnetic waves instead of the cables.

A wireless LAN is basically made of the network backbone which consists of devices like the data collection units, wireless cards, access points for wireless LAN, handheld laptops and computers and the software which will help manage the entire network. One access point can easily support a small group of network users and can function in a range of less than 100 feet. The access points can connect the wireless LANs to the wired LAN and can allow the wireless computer to access LAN resources like the internet connectivity and file servers.

Wireless networking hardware

Networking hardware generally refers to the equipment which helps the use of the computer network. This would normally include the routers, access points, gateways, hubs, switches, firewalls, ISDN adapters, modems, network bridges, networking cables and network interface cards. The most commonly used networking hardware today is Ethernet adapters which are copper based. However, today wireless networking has become quite popular due to the use of various handheld and portable devices.

A wireless distribution system is the system which enables the wireless interconnection of the access points to a network. Basically, it lets a wireless network to be expanded with the help of several access points without having to use a wired backbone in order to link them like the traditional method. The main advantage of this solution is that it preserves the MAC address across the links between various access points.

The access point could be either a remote, relay or main base station. The main base station is generally connected to a wired Ethernet. The relay base station helps relay the data between various remote base stations and wireless clients. The remote base station will accept the connections from various wireless clients and then passes them on to the main or relay stations.

All the base stations need to be configured to use the same radio channel and have to share the WPA or the WEP keys if they are being used. These can be configured to different service identifiers. Every base station must also be configured in order to forward to others in the same system.

WDS is also known as the repeater mode since it accepts and bridges the wireless clients at the same time unlike the traditional bridging. Wireless networking hardware enables us to remotely connect to a network without having to use cabling and allows handheld and portable devices to function smoothly.