Wireless access points provide versatility, flexibility
- By J.B. Miles
- Jan 12, 2004
Security concerns notwithstanding, the number of wireless LANs throughout government is growing. And WiFi, or wireless fidelity, is the global standard for wireless LANs.
WiFi LANs use essentially the same type of equipment as their wired counterparts: adapters (network interface cards), access points, bridges, gateways and routers. The main difference is that they all function wirelessly.
The wireless access points featured in this guide function as wireless hubs or base stations designed to transmit and receive WiFi wireless data and use a built-in or external antenna. The main job of an access point is to attach to a wired LAN.
As WiFi technology has developed, however, the distinction between pure access points and wireless bridges, and gateways and routers has blurred; many of the functions now reside within the same box.
The first wireless LAN standard, 802.11, was approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1997 and supported speeds up to 2 Mbps. In 1999, the IEEE approved both the 802.11a and 802.11b standards. The IEEE gave final approval to the 802.11g standard in June 2003.
WiFi components based on these three standards are faster, lower in cost and easier to set up than previous, largely proprietary generations of wireless LAN products. J.B. Miles of Honomu, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.