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Wireless Local Area Networking Explained

Wireless LAN or wireless local area network (WLAN) uses radio or infrared signals instead of traditional network cabling to provide wireless network communication over short distances.

While a Wireless LAN may not look like a traditional LAN, it performs the same functions. DHCP is typically used to add and configure new devices. They can communicate with other network devices in the same way that they would on a wired network. The primary distinction is in how the data is transmitted. A LAN transmits data in a series of Ethernet packets over physical cables. Packets are sent over the air in a WLAN.

What Exactly Does Wireless LAN Mean?

Wireless LAN is an abbreviation for wireless local area network. A WLAN can be built using any of several wireless network protocols, the most common of which are Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

WLAN network security is still a major concern. When joining a wireless LAN, wireless clients’ identities are typically verified (a process known as authentication). WPA and other technologies raise the level of security on wireless networks to that of traditional wired networks.


WLAN Advantages and disadvantages


  • Supports a wide range of devices.
  • Setting up a WLAN is simpler than laying wired network cables.
  • Accessing a WLAN is simpler than accessing a wired LAN because cable length is irrelevant.
  • WLANs are common in places other than businesses and homes, such as public places.


  • Because it is easier to hack a WLAN, encryption is required.
  • Wireless interference can degrade a wireless network’s speed and stability.
  • To expand a wireless network, more wireless devices, such as repeaters, are required.

Wireless LAN Devices

A WLAN can have as few as two devices or as many as one hundred. Wireless networks, on the other hand, become increasingly difficult to manage as the number of devices increases.

Many different types of devices can be found in wireless LANs, including:

  • Mobile phones
  • Laptop and tablet computers
  • Internet audio systems
  • Gaming consoles
  • Other internet-enabled home appliances and devices

WLAN Hardware and Connections

WLAN connections are made possible by radio transmitters and receivers built into client devices. Wireless networks do not require cables, but they are typically built with a number of special-purpose devices (each with its own radios and receiver antennas).

Wireless antenna

Local Wi-Fi networks, for example, can be built in two ways: ad-hoc or infrastructure.

Ad-hoc Wi-Fi mode WLANs are made up of direct peer-to-peer connections between clients with no intermediate hardware components. In some cases, ad-hoc local networks can be used to establish temporary connections, but they cannot support more than a few devices and can pose security risks.

A mode of Wi-Fi infrastructure WLAN relies on a central device known as a wireless access point (AP) to which all clients connect. Wireless broadband routers in home networks perform the functions of an AP as well as enable the WLAN for home internet access. Multiple APs can be interfaced to either and connected to form a larger WLAN.

Some wireless LANs are used to supplement an existing wired network. This type of WLAN is created by connecting an access point to the wired network’s edge and configuring the AP to work in bridging mode. The wireless link connects clients to the access point, and the AP bridge connection connects them to the Ethernet network.


Cell networks, a type of wireless wide area network, allow mobile phones to connect over long distances (WWAN). The usage models supported by a local network, as well as some rough physical distance and area limits, distinguish it from a wide network.

A local area network spans hundreds or thousands of square feet and covers individual buildings or public hotspots. Wide area networks span multiple miles and cover cities or geographic regions.

Frequently Asked Question

Is my Wireless LAN really secure?

This is a difficult question. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a security advancement based on emerging IEEE standards, will be available in new products later this year. WPA addresses the well-known static-encryption-key flaws in 802.11b’s Wired Equivalent Privacy standard. Furthermore, comprehensive vendor-proprietary products and services to reinforce wireless privacy have long been available.

Can I integrate WLANs with other networks?

When users can roam between different wired and wireless networks without having to reconfigure settings or reauthenticate, they have reached network nirvana. Multimode products are emerging that combine multiple versions of 802.11, as well as connectivity to licensed carriers’ 2.5- and 3-generation (2.5/3G) mobile WANs. Texas Instruments Inc., for example, announced in March chip sets for PDAs that combine 802.11b, GSM/GPRS, and Bluetooth capabilities. Net Motion Wireless Inc., based in Seattle, provides client software for roaming between any type of packet-based wired or wireless LAN or WAN. The software simply detects the strongest network connection available and connects the user to it transparently, keeping VPN sessions intact.

How is a Wireless LAN different from my regular wired LAN?

A WLAN enables users to move around with their laptop, PDA, etc. without being constrained by a wire AND while maintaining Internet access. Aside from that, it is the same, albeit much more convenient!

Are WLAN’s compatible with cellular and PCS?

Yes. WLAN and cellular/PCS services can be extended to any area with the right “in-building” system. New applications for “roaming” between WLAN and cellular/PCS data networks are also being developed. LBA provides the enterprise user with a comprehensive set of in-building wireless capabilities.


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