Putting Your WLAN Together
In order to build your wireless network, you need at the very least an Access Point (AP) and the client device, or mobile units and their antennas. Your AP is really the brains of the operation, sending the signal to and controlling all data transmitted throughout the network. Keep in mind the AP is the piece of the puzzle that essentially connects the wireless part of the network to the wired part. An AP is a portal, connecting your 802.11x network devices to your 802.3 or 802.5 (-wired) network.
The AP itself will come with software to setup and control, or with browser access for management. Your AP can run in three different modes: root, repeater and bridge.
Root mode is when your AP is connected to the wired network, and transmitting data to and from the wired network. This is the default use for most APs designed for small to medium networks on the market.
Repeater mode is when an AP is not physically connected to the network itself, but is actually transmitting to another AP on the wired network. This is used when the AP on the wired network does not have the signal strength or range to reach the mobile units.
Bridge mode is used to connect two completely separate wired networks with two APs. This is the most popular setup for connecting offices or locations with existing wired networks without the expense of laying more cable or digging to put down a T1 line. Instead, you can have the APs connect, which act as a wireless bridge between the two.
Client devices are for the end user and can be used to connect desktops, laptops and PDAs to the AP and the wired network. The client devices include PCMCIA cards, USB wireless adapters, and PCI and ISA cards. The most important part of choosing the client device is considering compatibility. There is no point in buying USB adapters, though they are cheap and easy to configure, if none of your existing desktops have USB ports.
Other WLAN devices include RF Antennas, PoE devices, Amplifiers, Attenuators, RF Adapter Cables (Pigtails) and Splitters. These devices are primarily used for large-scale wireless networks, and adhere special FCC rules and regulations.
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