WLAN Equipment

There are three main links that form the basis of the wireless network. These are:

● LAN adapter : Wireless adapters are made in the same basic form as their wired counterparts: PCMCIA, Card bus, PCI, and USB. They also serve the same function, enabling end-users to access the network. In a wired LAN, adapters provide an interface between the network operating system and the wire. In a WLAN, they provide the interface between the network operating system and an antenna to create a transparent connection to the network.

● AP : The AP is the wireless equivalent of a LAN hub. It receives, buffers, and transmits data between the WLAN and the wired network, supporting a group of wireless user devices. An AP is typically connected with the backbone network through a standard Ethernet cable, and communicates with wireless devices by means of an antenna. The AP or antenna connected to it is generally mounted on a high wall or on the ceiling. Like cells in a cellular network, multiple APs can support handoff from one AP to another as the user moves from area to area. APs have a range from 20 to 500 m. A single AP can support between 15 to 250 users, depending on technology, configuration, and use. It is relatively easy to scale a WLAN by adding more APs to reduce network congestion and enlarge the coverage area. Large networks requiring multiple APs deploy them to create overlapping cells for constant connectivity to the network. A wireless AP can monitor movement of a client across its domain and permit or deny specific traffic or clients from communicating through it.

● Outdoor LAN bridges : Outdoor LAN bridges are used to connect LANs in different
buildings. When the cost of buying a fiber optic cable between buildings is considered, particularly if there are barriers such as highways or bodies of water in the way, a WLAN can be an economical alternative. An outdoor bridge can provide a less expensive alternative to recurring leased-line charges. WLAN bridge products support fairly high data rates and ranges of several miles with the use of line-of-sight directional antennas. Some APs can also be used as a bridge between buildings of relatively close proximity.

Source of Information : Elsevier Wireless Networking Complete

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