Introduction to Wireless Networking
Since the announcement of our pioneering effort with wireless networking
and certification in Nigeria, a number of issues have cropped up as
to what wireless
networking is all about. Here is a brief introduction based on 4 frequently
questions, arranged in Question and Answer format.
Q1. What is Wireless Networking?
A. The term wireless networking refers to technology that enables two
computers to communicate using standard network protocols, but without
cabling. Although any technology that does this could be called wireless
the term generally refers to wireless LANs (WLAN). A WLAN is a grouping
network components connected by electromagnetic (radio) waves instead
A wireless LAN basically consists of: the network backbone; end-user
as data collection units, handheld computers and laptops; wireless LAN
points; wireless cards; and software that will help you manage the network.
A single access point can support a small group of users and can function
range of less than 100 to several hundred feet. Access points can connect
a wired LAN, allowing wireless computer access to LAN resources, such
servers or existing Internet Connectivity.
Q2. What is the advantage of Wireless Networking?
A. Wireless is not a technology to be adopted for its own sake. What
does it bring to
our daily tasks and to the balance sheet?
Mobility - WLANs provide users with access to real-time information
anywhere in their organization. Portability and Accessibility (anytime,
access) is key. WLANs encourage the growth of “hot spots,”
which are areas
outside of the office (or home) that allow users access to the company
network or the Internet. Hot spots can be located in public places such
Reliability - Fewer wires and connectors translates to fewer problems.
downtime due to cable faults in wired networks is eliminated.
Ease of Installation - No expensive and time-consuming cable installations
required. No drilling or dropping cables through walls and ceilings.
eliminates the time, expense and disruption associated with cable.
Affordability – There are significant cost savings primarily as
a result of lower
cabling/installation costs. In addition, long-term costs are greatly
environments such as large enterprise networks that require frequent
changes, as no recabling is involved.
Scalability - Systems are easily configured and rearranged to accommodate
variety of office settings and number of users. Once in use, computers
with wireless network cards can be easily relocated.
Installation Flexibility -Wireless can go where wire cannot go. You
can use it
in areas where you don't have the capability to run wire, i.e. where
options are strictly limited.
Q3. Who needs Wireless Networking?
A. If you, your application or your organization requires to take advantage
benefits of mobility, portability and accessibility of data, then you
need to consider
wireless networking. Here are typical areas that benefit from the use
Corporate Information Systems – Networks can be installed, relocated
without the constraints of wired networks. Users can do e-mail, file
web browsing, “anytime, anywhere”.
Shops/Retail – Shops can maintain real-time pricing and inventory
information wireless using wireless handheld devices.
Education - Wireless communications in higher institutions reduces the
and time required to cable campuses. Students and teachers can interact
anywhere on campus.
Warehousing – Workers in the warehouse can communicate and store
for inventory management while still on the warehouse floor.
Medical/Hospitals - Hospital staff can use wireless handheld devices
access and update patient information, and improve quality of patient
Q4. What does the future portend for WLANs?
A. Increased use of laptop computers within the enterprise, and increase
mobility have fuelled the demand for wireless networks. Note that like
technology, there are challenges associated with the use of WLANs? WLANs
a “cure-all”. But with the maturing of industry standards
and the deployment of
lightweight wireless networking hardware across a broad market section,
technology has come of age.
The technology no doubt has witnessed increased acceptance in the last
not only within the enterprise, but also within the home, public access,
embedded device markets. This is made possible not only by improvements
performance and manageability but also security and interoperability
as well and the
general decrease in price.
Purchases of wireless hardware reached $2.2 billion in 2002 and are
expected to top
$3.9 billion by 2006, according to research firm In-Stat/MDR. Units
skyrocket from 18 million to 75 million in 2006, which suggests that
the cost of
deploying wireless will continue to fall.
The rate of growth is the major difference between the networking market
as a whole
and the wireless LAN market. Due to the advantages mentioned earlier,
wireless LANs is faster than every other market sector.
I hope you have found this brief introduction useful. (Written in
2004 and still valid)