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An Overview of Wireless Networking

10:15, 18/12/2007 .. Link

Whether you want to make a phone call from your mobile, receive a message on your pager, or check your email from a PDA, we have come across a wireless data or voice network. If a user or a company wants to make data portable then Wireless networking is the answer. A wireless networking system can avoid the downtime, which may be caused in the wired network. A wireless network also saves your time and efforts in installing the lot of cables.

Also, if you need to relocate a client machine in your office, you only need to move the computer with wireless network card. Wireless networking is very useful in the public places, libraries, hotels, schools, airports, railway stations where one might find wireless access to the internet. A drawback in the wireless internet is that quality of service (QOS) is not guaranteed if there is any interference then the connection may be dropped.

Wireless Network Types

Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANS)

WLANS allow users in local area, such as in a university or a library to form a network and gain wireless access to the internet. A temporary network can be formed by a small number of users without the need of access point; given that they do not need to access the resources.

Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANS)

There are two current technologies for wireless personal network Bluetooth and Infra Red. These technologies will allow the connectivity of personal devices within an area of 30 feet. Infra Red requires a direct line and the range is less as compared to Bluetooth technology.

Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (WMANS)

WMANS allow the connectivity of multiple networks in a metropolitan area such as building in a city. The network connectivity is the alternative of copper or fiber cabling.

Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWANS)

WWANS or Wireless Area Networks can be maintained over large areas such as in different cities or between different countries, via multiple satellite systems or antenna sites. The types of system are called 2G systems. The following table shows the range those different types of wireless network covers.

Network Meter
Personal Area Network 0-10
Local Area Network 0-100
Wide Are Network 0-10000

Security in Wireless Networking

The following different types of security methods are available in the wireless networking.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

Wired Equivalent Privacy is intended to stop the interference of radio frequency that is signaled by unauthorized users and this security measure is most suitable for the small networks. There is not key management protocol and each key is entered manually into the clients that?s why this is very time consuming administrative task. The WEP security method is based on the RC4 encryption algorithm. In the WEP all the client computers and Access points are configured with the same encryption and decryption keys.

Service Set Identifier (SSID)

Service Set Identifier (SSID) acts a simple password by allowing WLAN network to be split up into different networks and each having a unique identifier. These identifiers are configured in the multiple access points. To access any of any networks, a computer is configured in such a way that each is having a corresponding SSID identifier for that network. If the SSID match between the two computers or networks then access is granted to each other.

Media Access Control filtering (MAC Access Control)

A list of the MAC addresses of the client computers can be inputted into an Access point and only those computers are granted to give the access to the network. When a computer makes a request, its MAC address is compared to the list of the MAC addresses to the Access point and based on this access permission granted to deny. This is a good security method but it is mainly involved in the small wireless networks because there is more manual work is involved of entering the MAC address into the Access point.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a simple type of the wireless networking that operates in the digital devices, like mobiles phones, personal computers, PDA, Laptops, digital camera, MP3 players and other Bluetooth enabled devices to form a small network. In the Bluetooth technology eight devices can be connected to each other at the same time. Bluetooth can also be found in the headsets, hands-free kits, wireless keyboards and mouse. Bluetooth technology was invented by Ericsson in 1994 and after four years in 1998 some major mobile phone companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, Intel and Toshiba formed a group to promote this technology.

Bluetooth technology falls in the category of personal area networking because it operates in the range of 30 to 300 feet. Bluetooth uses the radio waves technology, which is not very expensive and has low power consumption. Many different companies are intended to add the Bluetooth chip in their digital devices. Bluetooth technology is getting very popularity because of its low cost and portability.

The Future of Wireless Networking

WLANS wireless networking type is very popular in home networking and more than 20 percent homes with broadband internet are using WLANS and this number is increasing. In a general estimate worldwide hotspots have now reached more than 30,000 and will grow about 210,000 in the next few years. Most large hotels already offer Wi-Fi and the business travelers are willing to pay wireless access. 802.11 is the next Wi-Fi speed standard is set to offer bandwidth around 108Mbps and is still under development. With the speed of 70 Mbps and a range up to 30 miles, the 80216 standard, known as WiMAX is sure to get boost.

Some Tips & Tricks

? When purchasing a wireless NIC card try to get one that is having external antenna. When you are out and using Wi-Fi enabled laptop, disable Microsoft file and sharing, which enables other computers in a network to access data and resources on your computer. In this way, your computer or laptop will be saved from hackers.
? If you are concerned about the interference from the other wireless access point set the AP and wireless computers to use a non-overlapping channel.
? Change the configuration interface password of the access point before you enable it.
? Only buy an access point that is having upgradeable capabilities. By this way you can take the advantage of security enhancements.
? Keep the access point up to date.

Bushra Bashir http://www.networktutorials.info

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