Wireless Network Setup Technologies - Learning Series

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Wireless Network Setup Technologies

Wireless networks allow computers and other technology devices such as cell phones, game systems, printers and more to communicate without wires.  Wireless devices sometimes communicate via infrared waves similar to those used by a television remote control, or more commonly they use radio waves similar to the frequencies you tune into via a music radio.

The most common type of wireless network type is a Wireless local area network (Wireless LAN), often referred to as Wi-Fi which stands for wireless fidelity. Wireless LAN’s are commonly found in homes and businesses and they are used to connect numerous technology devices (“e.g.” laptops, iPhone, etc.) to a local area network without wires. A wireless network setup is typically installed in a home so individuals can access the Internet anywhere in the local area via their laptop including sitting on the couch or even in the backyard.

In fact we’re willing to bet you may even be surfing the Internet right now over a Wireless connection. That’s how common wireless LAN’s are today, they are literally everywhere.

Head over to your favorite Starbucks coffee corner and you will most certainly find a Wi-Fi connection available, Wi-Fi is also commonly found in schools and public libraries too.

There are other wireless network setups too such as a Wireless personal area network (Wireless PAN).  Wireless PAN’s are typically used to connect devices across a shorter distance.  An example of a common Wireless PAN is Bluetooth technology found in most cell phones, PDA’s, some automobiles, and many other devices.

Then there is a wireless MAN, yet another type of wireless network setup.  Wireless mans are also known as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX).  Wireless MAN’s are used to connect several wireless local area networks (LANs).

As you see there a number of wireless networks setups out there with Wireless local area networks (WLAN’s) being the most common.  And as you will see in the next section, wireless technologies are going to offer you a number of key benefits over standard wired technologies.

Wireless Network Setups - Key Benefits

There are many benefits to using a wireless network setup and because setting one up these days is a fairly simple process taking advantage of the technology is even easier than ever.

With a wireless network setup you have more convenient options to access the Internet, especially useful for homes and small business.  In the past if you wanted to network computers and other devices in a home or business you would have to run a cable across or even through the floor, etc. or hire an expensive cabling company if a professional cabling job was necessary.

Wireless network setups solve the cabling issues of the past in many situations.  Now you can sit on the comfort of your couch and access your favorite website via your laptop, or even sun in the backyard during the summer surfing the Internet at the same time via your laptop, iPhone, or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).

And as you see cost is also a major benefit of a wireless network setup.  Running cables or even worse, hiring a professional cabling company can become very costly indeed.  Wireless networking solves these problems in many situations.

Another thing worth mentioning is security, for you may have heard that wireless (Wi-Fi) is a security risk.  While many can argue that wireless still isn’t as secure as a direct wire connection, these days wireless local area network technological improvements have definitely bridged that gap making wireless networks just as safe as wired networks when configured correctly with high end security encryption features enabled, etc.

As you see wireless network technologies are going to be beneficial to many individuals and organizations in more ways than one. Now with a brief introduction and a list of key benefits out of the way, let’s briefly go over how the most common type of wireless setup.  In this next section we’re going to explain how a wireless local area network (WLAN) works in a typical home or small business setup.

How A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Works

A wireless local area network (WLAN) wireless network setup works via a combination of devices such a wireless router or access point, a wireless/Wi-Fi card, DSL or Cable modem, etc.

When setting up a wireless local area network (WLAN), a wireless router or access point is the most important piece of networking pie needed to make everything work. 

The wireless router or access point acts as a central hub to which computers, printers, PDA’s and other devices connect.  Common wireless router manufacturers include Linksys, Netgear, Belkin, Cisco, D-link, Apple, Trendnet, Asus, 3Com, Buffalo Technology, and SMC.

Every device that connects to the wireless router does so with a wireless network interface card or NIC.  Wi-Fi cards receive and transmit signals from the device to the router and vice versa.  But before a Wi-Fi enabled device can connect, it must first be connected to the router.

Typically this requires you to search for the wireless routers Service Set Identifier (SSID) which is the name given to the wireless network setup.  On each device that you want to connect to the wireless network setup you must search for the SSID of the network and then connect accordingly.  Normally a special encrypted password sometimes called a WEP key or WPA key is then needed to initiate the connection, at least on a properly setup wireless networks that is. 

Some wireless network setups may be setup without a password and are usually referred to as unsecured wireless networks.  If you setup your own router definitely be sure to password protect it during setup for an unsecured wireless network is exactly that, unsecure. Your neighbors could for example connect to your network and at the minimum steal your network bandwidth (Internet connection speed available) which you pay your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for. Or worse Johnny Hacker may live next door and steal your identity.    

If you connect to any unsecured wireless network that you aren’t familiar with also be weary for this may be a security risk since there could be a large number of who knows who connected to the same network and once again Johnny Hacker may be lurking. 

Another thing you may encounter when discussing wireless networks is the difference between an infrastructure and ad hoc wireless network setup.  The more common mode is an infrastructure mode wireless network.  In this mode computers are connected with other networked computers via the wireless router. The less common ad hoc network mode in comparison allows wireless devices/clients to connect to each other without a router/access point.


Wireless network technologies make the impossible possible, at our finger tips is the capability to connect our high tech devices to a high speed network without wires. In the good ole days wires would have to be run from room to room or floor to floor, price for setup was costly, and the time to setup a wired network was vastly increased from a wireless network among other things. 

Today purchasing and setting up a wireless network setup is a snap, and there are a ton of wireless products to choose from in addition to plenty of resources available to help you with setup and configuration of the wireless network if needed.

Once it is all said and done and your router is setup and configured you can begin sharing files with another computer, an Internet connection, printers, and much more. Like magic the wireless router sends out invisible signals to each device communicating on the network making everything work seamless with no wires being necessary for each wireless device that communicates through the router.

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