Wireless networks: What are they, and what are they used for?

The Internet is extremely fundamental to most human beings today, because of the different activities that can be managed through it. Hence, a term used in computing to designate the connection of nodes, known as “network“.

Although there are several types of networks today, there is no doubt that wireless networking or WiFi technology is here to stay in everyone’s life. Furthermore, because of its practicality, it is estimated to have replaced ethernet-type connections, i.e. the traditional wired Internet system.

To know a little more about this system, in this post, we will refer to its definition, its functions, the types that exist, which are the necessary components to create one and also the most used and efficient topologies that there are of wireless network.

What is a wireless network and what is it for in computing?

With regard to a network of this type, it can be said that it is one that offers the possibility of connecting various nodes without making use of a physical connection, such as cables. Therefore, it does so by establishing communication by means of electromagnetic waves.

The most notable feature of this system is that it allows for the establishment of links between computers and some other computer equipment without the prior requirement of installing wiring on site. Therefore, it means greater comfort for users and more economy in terms of infrastructure.

The wireless network provides greater simplicity so that a remarkable number of devices can be interconnected, whether they are mobile phones, computers, tablets, printers, faxes, etc. In addition, it works perfectly for a more elegant installation, ensuring that both the style and appearance of the site are not impaired in any way.

Among other functions and/or advantages, we emphasize that it serves to allow greater mobility to its users, since they will be able to access the Internet from any place without complications. Likewise, it allows access to the network in a fast and simultaneous way.

However, in terms of security, it can cause problems if you do not have efficient protection to prevent the entry of hackers and intruders that may affect you. In addition to this, it is also worth noting that the speed of the internet provided by this type of network and compared to ethernet, is lower due to possible interference in space.

What types of wireless networks are there?

To begin with, it should be noted that networks of this kind can be classified in different ways, either by frequency or by coverage. Since the most common way to identify them is by the range that these networks reach, in this post we indicate the types of wireless networks there are depending on the coverage they show:

WPAN

The acronym for “Wireless Personal Area Network” which stands out for allowing wireless communications for particular devices. In other words, it is based on offering a clearly personal coverage, so it is the type of lower range of the list. Taking into account that it only provides a path of 10 meters approximately.

On the other hand, it aims to communicate devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, PDAs, etc. This, from its peripherals such as keyboard, mouse, controls, among others. Taking into account that, mainly, it makes use of technologies such as bluetooth and infrared. The best of these two, no doubt, is bluetooth because it includes the ability to transmit data between 1 and 100 meters.

WLAN

Compared to the previous one, this type of technology has a greater range and basically facilitates the connection of portable devices, tablets, etc. It makes use of radio frequency technology and thus allows greater mobility to users with the aim of reducing cable connections. Therefore, it is a very flexible wireless data communication system.

It is worth noting that WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) has become very powerful in different fields, such as manufacturing and warehousing, i.e. in establishments where information needs to be transmitted in real time to a central terminal.

WMAN

These networks that mean “Wireless Metropolitan Area Network” are a system designed to be used in cities or towns, especially; hence, its name. Likewise, they allow interoperability with a remarkable coverage and bandwidth. That is to say, they have a greater geographical reach than WANs, but are smaller in terms of coverage.

WMANs have an excellent speed feature, as they are considered very high speed connections using fiber optic cable or similar. As such, they can have a much lower error rate and latency than other networks. They are recommended for video surveillance systems and are also perfect for internet in areas without a signal.

WWAN

Wireless Wide Area Network” stands out as the type of wireless network with the longest range of all. That way, mobile phones are connected to a WWAN network today. Taking into account that, it can be composed of certain technologies, such as GSM, GPRS, UMTS.

However, in reference to its main characteristics, we highlight that the wireless WWAN has three features of great relevance and they are They present a truly high speed of internet access and thanks to that, they offer the possibility of transmitting video and audio in real time. Additionally, they have multimedia capacity and voice transmission with high quality (similar to that of fixed networks).

Components of a Wireless Network What is needed to create one?

In order to understand what a wireless network is and how it can be created, it is necessary to know what this type of network can be configured with. This is facilitated by a series of elements that we will detail below:

The antennas

An antenna is a device that facilitates transmission or has the ability to receive radio waves. Thus, what it does is to convert the digital signals or the wave guided by the transmission line into electromagnetic waves that can be sent through free space.

Thus, their specific characteristics will depend on the use that will be given to them and on their relationship between the wavelength of the transmitted or received signal and its dimensions as well.

However, there are three types of antennas for WiFi and they are classified as follows:

  • Omnidirectional: They are in charge of orienting the signal in all directions with a wide beam, but with a short range. Theoretically, they send the data at 360°.
  • Directional: They simply direct the signal in a very specific direction with a narrow beam that emits long range.
  • Sectorial: These are the ones that mix the omnidirectional antennas with the directional ones, because they send a less wide beam than the first type, but wider than the directional ones. These are measured by DBI or Isotropic Decibel.

Access point

Also known as “Access Point“, it is a layer 2 device that interconnects wireless communication devices to form a network of this type. Thanks to these devices, wireless stations can be quickly integrated into any wired network. In addition, they allow data to be transmitted by both means.

In addition, it should be noted that this access point has an assigned IP address, with which it can be easily configured.

Like the antennas, the access point comprises three types and they are

  • Repeater mode: Used to extend the signal further.
  • Root mode: It’s the one where multiple users enter the access point simultaneously.
  • Bridge Mode: Most useful for connecting two separate buildings without cables. That is, when bridging wirelessly between devices, two access points in this mode will only communicate with each other.

Wireless Bridge

In general, it is designed to link two or more networks located in different buildings. Since, it has the ability to interconnect two network segments by making data packets based on the located physical destination address.

In addition, the wireless bridge provides high data rates and allows you to connect locations that are difficult to wire. Such as: corporate facilities, school campuses, non-contiguous floors, among others.

The types of bridge that stand out are:

  • Remote: They are linked in pairs by connecting two or more local networks and can be joined by a Wireless Distribution System (WDS).
  • Local: They are ideal for connecting two physically close networks directly.

Wireless Router

It is used in networks as a guide in order to direct the wireless network connection properly and also to direct the data packets, so that they flow to the correct destination.

As for the communication technology it has, it is based on radio waves and allows ADSL connection, through which it enables the operation of broadband internet and can also be distributed to other computers.

Adapters

Basically, they are capacity expansion cards that are used to transmit and receive data without the need for cables in WLAN networks, specifically. Therefore, they have an antenna that allows optimal reception of network data.

It should be noted that, the adapters are schematized for certain types of wireless network standards. Therefore, they have a maximum transmission speed according to the standard, which is expressed in bps.

Topologies of wireless networks Which are the most used and efficient?

In reference to the topologies of WiFi networks, it should be noted that these can be built with or without an AP access point and through this, it is possible to determine whether it is an AD-HOC or an Infrastructure. That is why these types are the most used today:

AD-HOC

This is a group of computers that communicate directly from radio signals without using an access point, i.e. there is no central element.

As for its main characteristics, we highlight:

  • The AD-HOC mode can support about 256 users.
  • A WLAN with AD-HOC topology requires the configuration of all the equipment connected to it and this must be with the same identifier as the basic service.
  • With regard to the process it carries out, it is as follows: When a wireless adapter is activated, it first goes into a “listening” state that lasts 6 seconds to search for any enabled conversion on all channels and if it locates one, it tells the user which one to connect to. Otherwise, that is, it cannot be connected to another HOST that is active, it takes care of creating the conversion to link other devices to it.

Infrastructure

With the infrastructure topology, if there is an element of coordination or access point; unlike the AD-HOC mode. In the event that this base station connects to a wired ethernet network, wireless users will be able to access the fixed network through this wireless network mode.

Among its particularities we refer to:

  • This mode is known as “Basic Service Set” or “Master and Client“, it is IEEE 802.22 networks specifically.
  • If you want to link many access points and wireless clients, you need to configure all of them with the same SSID.

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

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