VIII Wireless Networking
(Page 2 of 3)
Deciphering the alphabet soup of 802.11x
Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) don't have to be part of the 802.11x group sometimes known as WiFi, however the 802.11x family is overwhelmingly the most popular way to run a network without wires in a public or private LAN. All wireless networking standards comprising the 802.11 standards family has several things in common.
The first point is 802.11 is done with radio waves. This means all the freedom of radio, and the associated heartaches, are part of any WLAN. Perhaps the most annoying part of this is the fact that radio waves do not have the characteristics of Superman. They cannot penetrate steel or steel pans that have concrete poured on top to make a floor in a commercial office building.
Another issue is signal strength. The farther the signal from the base antenna to the antenna attached to the device (example a notebook computer), the weaker the signal, and therefore, the slower the access speed. This is true of either an analog signal or a digital signal. If it is not immediately obvious how a digital signal can slow down, because digital signals are either on or off, consider this. While it is true that a "hunk of data" is correctly received (or not), time is lost in re-sending the (or nots), degrading overall throughput.
A final issue in some cases is security. Some networks need to be secured from interlopers dropping in on the radio signal from eavesdropping on unsuspecting users. In fact, lack of sufficient security to prevent eavesdropping is one reason many organizations have chosen not to deploy 802.11, at least within their most sensitive networks.
In some cases a wireless network needs to be simple to connect to. For example, an airport terminal or conference center may provide 802.11x based network access for those in attendance.
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