Wireless networks use radio frequencies as an alternative to standard land-based Ethernet cabling. In a wireless network, also referred to as a “WLAN”, wireless access points are set up to act as transmitters to send data to wireless network cards installed on users’ PCs, appliances, or mobile devices anywhere on the network. Wireless networks offer the same services as a traditional wired network, as well as the added advantage of mobility. (Syracuse)
Just as in a wired network environment, any device that requires a network connection must be equipped with a wireless network card. These connected devices communicate with each other through the wireless access point.(High) This access point must be physically wired and connected to the network through a high-speed interface.
Wireless networking provides several advantages over a traditional wired network. Users have the advantage of mobility, meaning, users can physically move about the network using a mobile device while still maintaining a high speed an d reliable connection. Cabling problems are also no longer an issue. Wireless networks eliminate the need for the expensive and tedious costs of installation of high speed cabling. Cable faults are also eliminated because the need to replace faulty cabling is no longer needed.
Wireless networks are often more quickly installed and the need to worry about office configurations and floor layouts is not as much of a concern. (Mobility)
Even though wireless networking does provide several advantages over traditional cabled networking it is not without its disadvantages. Smaller bandwidth than traditional cabling, can often slow the network. Security is also an issue. While wireless networks can be encrypted, any wireless signal can be passively intercepted. And perhaps the biggest disadvantage of this technology is its reliability. All wireless signals suffer from the same problem, interference from and with other signals. (Syracuse) This can often cause lower bandwidth or incomplete transmissions.
Wireless networking is RF based with many of the traditional features of the original wired networks. While wireless networks are currently running slower, and security issues are continually being addressed, wireless is still growing in popularity. Both corporate and private enterprise is pushing for advances in all areas. With these current developments, it should not be long before wireless networking has replaced the traditional wired networks.
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High Speed Surfing, Wireless Networking FAQ. http://www.highspeedsurfing.com/faqwireless.html. ©2001
Mobility by Design. Wireless Networking FAQ. http://www.mobilitybydesign.com/faq.html. ©2002
Steers, Kirk. No-Hassle wireless networking superguide: PC World, Feb 2004 i2 p138.
Syracuse University. Wireless Networking FAQ. http://cms.syr.edu/connecting/wireless-faq.html. ©1995-2002
University of Iowa. Wireless Networking Basics. http://its.uiowa.edu/tns/data/wirelessbas.html ©2004