There are certain parallels between the equipment used to build a WLAN
and that used in a traditional wired LAN. Both networks require network
interface cards or network adapter cards. A wireless LAN PC card, which
contains an in-built antenna, is used to connect notebook computers to a
wireless network. Usually, this is inserted into the relevant slot in the side of
the notebook, but some may be internal to the notebook. Desktop computers
can also connect to a wireless network if a wireless network card is inserted
into one of its internal PCI slots.
In a wireless network, an 'access point' has a similar function to the hub in
wired networks. It broadcasts and receives signals to and from the
surrounding computers via their adapter card. It is also the point where a
wireless network can be connected into an existing wired network.
The most obvious difference between wireless and wired networks,
however, is that the latter uses some form of cable to connect computers
together. A wireless network does not need cable to form a physical
connection between computers.
Wireless Network Configurations
Wireless networks can be configured in an ad hoc/peer-to-peer arrangement
or as a local area network.
Ad Hoc/Peer-to-Peer Configuration
This is the most basic wireless network configuration. It relies on the
wireless network adapters installed in the computers that are communicating
with each other. A computer within range of the transmitting computer can
connect to it. However, if a number of computers are networked in this way,
they must remain within range of each other. Even though this configuration
has no real administration overhead, it should only be a consideration for
very small installations.
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