Ad Hoc Network What is this type of wireless network and how does it work?

At the computer level, a network refers to the interconnection, by means of devices, of a certain number of computers or networks, worth the redundancy. These, through electronic impulses, electromagnetic waves or other physical means, have the ability to send and receive data packets, share their resources and operate as an organized whole.

Thus, a wireless network is one that connects nodes using electromagnetic waves, without the need for a physical or wired connection. Taking into account that, one of the most known and used in different areas, are the Ad-Hoc networks that, basically, are a decentralized wireless network that supports access to different nodes directly and, thanks to that, reveals important advantages for users.

Then, due to their remarkable importance, it is worth knowing the most interesting aspects of an Ad-Hoc network, in order to specify what they are for. In addition to this, we will also tell you what its main features and utilities are, as well as its most interesting components, benefits and disadvantages.

What is an Ad-Hoc Wireless Network and what is it for?

Basically, an Ad-Hoc wireless network is a type of decentralized network that is characterized by being point-to-point and thus its nodes can communicate with each other independently of a fixed infrastructure. In other words, it does not undergo a pre-existing infrastructure, such as wired networks (or routers) or access point in managed wireless networks.

In this sense, within an Ad-Hoc network, each node is responsible for participating in the routing by forwarding data to other nodes and, therefore, the determination of these nodes towards the data is done dynamically on the basis of the connectivity of the network in question. Consequently, all nodes have the same status within the network and are free to link to any other Ad-Hoc network device in the link range.

Therefore, as there is no structure for this, it is not necessary to have a router or an access point to carry out the communication between the sending of data and the reception of the same by the nodes that exist. Rather, it is the same components of the Ad-Hoc network that communicate with each other to dynamically transmit information.

That is why, mainly, this type of networks are used for domestic environments where it is preferred to obtain the least possible complexity of installation. Also, they work perfectly to share a certain file between different computers or devices that belong to the wireless network and do not have access to the Internet, in addition, they can also be implemented in circumstances of civil or natural emergencies.

What are the main characteristics of an AD HOC network?

However, in order to know more about this type of decentralized wireless networks in order to manage them correctly, it is extremely relevant to point out their most valuable characteristics.

We will now proceed to mention each of them:

  • They are networks based on a system known as “Ad-Hoc mode”, which is characterized by allowing the nodes to move freely and thus, do not depend on an established central domain. Therefore, the node may act as a host or as a router, depending on the transmission range of each of those present in the network.
  • It is possible to connect more than one laptop to an Ad-Hoc network, as long as all adapter cards are configured for Ad-Hoc mode and linked to the same SSID. Considering also that, the equipments must be located less than 100 meters from each other.
  • In an Ad-Hoc network, there will always be an absence of infrastructure. This means that, there will not be any kind of centralized entity or any structure used, because the devices can play the role of host or router at any time.
  • They stand out for presenting a variable topology and therefore, the nodes have the possibility of moving and constituting new links with other nodes belonging to their area of coverage, basically.
  • With regard to their autonomy, it should be noted that it is limited. This is due to the portability of its devices which are restricted with respect to battery life.
  • Since the existing nodes are mobile, links are often broken, resulting in variations or changes in routes.

AD HOC Network vs. Standard WiFi Which is better and how do they differ?

While it is true, many people wonder what the dissimilarities are between Ad-Hoc mode and a conventional WiFi network which refers to a technology that allows the wireless interconnection of electronic devices. That is why it is important to specify the differences between both types of networks and, therefore, according to the requirements of each user, define which is the best:

Infrastructure

As we have emphasized throughout the post, Ad-Hoc mode does not require a centralized access point and is therefore a decentralized wireless network. Consequently, it is the devices that are connected to each other in order to be able to transport the data through the network in question, and therefore they do not depend on a central router.

In contrast, standard WiFi technology usually operates in infrastructure mode. This means that communication between all the devices in a network must be carried out from an access point, which is generally the wireless router. Thus, they are networks based on a pre-established infrastructure in network hopping connections in a wired way. Therefore, unlike the AD HOC mode, in this case the communication is done indirectly through the wireless access point to send and receive data packets.

Configuration

Ad-Hoc networks are usually easier to set up. If you need to link devices together to transfer files without using the Internet, these devices can be connected directly to the Ad-Hoc mode to form a temporary WiFi network, without the requirement of a wireless router.

On the other hand, Standard WiFi needs more advanced configuration, as these types of networks are ideal for creating a permanent network. Taking into account that, the wireless routers will work as an access point thanks to its antennas and wireless radios of greater power that manage to cover an area of greater amplitude.

Other differences

AD HOC Network

Standard WiFi

These networks have the ability to handle dynamic topological changes They generally do not respond well to dynamic changes in topology
Unfortunately, they do not have encryption or built-in security Offers high security and encryption in the protocol
Prior to data traffic, additional frames need not be exchanged Several frames must be exchanged before data traffic
No built-in service discovery Service discovery is part of the protocol always

 Which one is better?

In order to determine the best wireless network between Ad-Hoc mode and Standard WiFi, it all depends on the type of usage. In other words, the user’s needs will define which type of network is more suitable for achieving its purpose.

Therefore, if you need to transport data between several computers easily and quickly without having to use the Internet or use a central router to transfer the data, it is best to use an Ad-Hoc type network. But, in case you need to create a permanent and more advanced network, it is recommended to access a conventional WiFi network to do so.

AD HOC uses What are the main applications of this type of network?

Due to their decentralized nature, Ad-Hoc networks are competent for a variety of applications where central nodes are not required, even though they are critical for optimizing the scalability of centralized and managed wireless networks.

The following are the main uses and/or applications of this type of wireless network:

  • They are very useful networks for sharing files or any kind of data with several computers simultaneously, directly, without the need for the computer to have access to a WiFi network.
  • They also apply to sharing the Internet connection from one computer to another, easily and quickly.
  • They have optimum training for any emergency situation, such as: natural disasters or armed conflicts. Since, its configuration is minimal and its deployment is dynamic, since the routing protocols can be mounted quickly.
  • Its application in the domestic environment is really important and, nowadays, it is very well managed. For example, for the transfer of information between mobile devices via Bluetooth or between other devices (such as printers).
  • It is an ideal mechanism for sending files to another computer directly, when memory cards or other removable media are not available.
  • AD HOC networks can be used to participate in multi-player network games, i.e. teams with multiplayer games.

What does it take to create an AD HOC network? Main components

However, since its configuration is totally simple and its temporary creation can be carried out by any user, it is valuable to know which are all and each one of the components needed to elaborate an Ad-Hoc network easily. Therefore, at this point, we proceed to mention those elements that you must have when building a decentralized wireless network:

  • Network Interface Card: Each node needs to have these cards to access the support of the specific wired network scheme.
  • Wireless network cards: They are required to create an Ad-Hoc network, in any case; so that they can be connected to each other.
  • Workstations: Basically, these are computers or mobile devices that, within a network of this type, are known as “network nodes”.
  • Shared resources: They refer to the different peripherals needed to share the resources you want; this being the main purpose of an Ad-Hoc network. A clear example of them is a printer.

Again, it is valuable to distinguish that, for this type of configuration, an access point should not be used.

Advantages and Limitations of AD HOC How convenient is it to install?

Finally, to delimit how opportune it is to create and install an Ad-Hoc network, one of the most important aspects to know are its main advantages and disadvantages. Taking into account that, from each one of them, you will know clearly if you need a system of this type in your home or in your work place, for example.

Main benefits

Because of the benefits that Ad-Hoc networks exhibit for their users, of course, there are valuable advantages to be considered when wanting to build a network of this kind:

  • Fortunately, it’s very easy to set up, so only each node needs to be configured. It is very simple and some operating systems offer the possibility of configuring each computer in a few steps. Like Windows, for example.
  • By using such a network, files and data can be shared quickly, as all computers will be directly interconnected and no administration process by a central point is required. In other words, it does not require an intermediary.
  • No Internet connection is required to transfer information between devices directly.
  • It is also an ideal mechanism to share the Internet connection with other computers and thanks to that, with very few resources, you can get some computer to work as a modem for the other machines in use.
  • They are much cheaper than other managed networks. This is because there are no additional costs such as cabling to establish the connection to the central router.

Main limitations

However, not everything can be perfect and these kinds of networks also reveal some limitations, disadvantages or cons that are significant to take into account before creating and using them.

These disadvantages are outlined below:

  • In this type of network, security is completely reduced. This is due to the fact that all the nodes are connected to each other and if an intruder manages to gain access to any of these nodes, he will be able to penetrate all the equipment that make up the Ad-Hoc network.
  • It is mandatory that all teams stay within each others’ coverage area in order to communicate with them. Otherwise, the process will not be satisfactory.
  • Since the nodes are interrelated, as long as one of them is disconnected, the whole network, or at least a part of it made up of those nodes that are within reach of the one that was disconnected, will be disarmed.
  • Generally, nodes compete to enter the shared wireless environment and such competition results in collisions or interference that is basically caused by the transmission of two or more nodes simultaneously.
  • If the network cards used are not compatible, it will be impossible to carry out the connection in Ad-Hoc mode. Therefore, you have to make sure that compatibility is mandatory.
  • Just as there is little security in this type of network, there is also a very slow speed, in most cases. Therefore, it is a kind of network that is not fully effective.

This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

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