Why Wireless LAN?
Mobility; Flexibility; Ease of Installation. Applying wireless LAN technology provides an organization with flexibility that would not be possible using a traditional LAN. Desktop computers can be located in places where running cable is impractical or impossible. PCs can be redeployed anywhere within a facility as needed, making wireless ideal for temporary workgroups and rapidly growing organisations.
Wireless LAN is ideal for:
• Staff who require mobility within the enterprise. With a wireless PC Card installed in a notebook or
hand-held PC PCMCIA slot, users can move freely within a facility while maintaining access to
• Businesses that need flexibility for frequent office movement / rearrangement, either throughout one site
or in selected areas.
• Any company whose site is not conducive to LAN wiring because of environmental or
budget limitations, such as older, heritage buildings, leased space or temporary sites.
Here is a summary of the benefits of a wireless LAN installation:
Mobility - Wireless LAN systems can provide network users with access to real-time information anywhere in their organization. This mobility supports productivity and service opportunities not possible with wired networks.
Installation Speed and Simplicity - Installing a wireless LAN system can be fast and easy and can eliminate the need to pull cable through walls and ceilings.
Installation Flexibility - Wireless technology allows the network to go where wire cannot go.
Reduced Cost-of-Ownership - While the initial investment required for wireless LAN hardware can be higher than the cost of wired LAN hardware, overall installation expenses and life-cycle costs can be significantly lower. Long-term cost benefits are greatest in dynamic environments requiring frequent moves, additions and changes.
Scalability - Wireless LAN systems can be configured in a variety of topologies to meet the needs of specific applications and installations. Configurations are easily changed and range from peer-to-peer networks suitable for a small number of users to full infrastructure networks of thousands of users, allowing for roaming over a broad area.
Businesses and institutions investing in wireless local area network solutions are realising rapid and significant results in return. A 1998 ROI cost/benefit study conducted by the Wireless Local Area Network Association "WLANA" found that the average payback time for the initial cost of wireless LAN installations was 8.9 months across all industries. In the same study, 97% of respondents said that wireless LANs met or exceeded their expectations to provide their company with a competitive advantage, while 92% reported definite economic and business benefits found after installation.
How does it work?
In a typical wireless LAN configuration, a transmitter/receiver (transceiver) device, called an access point, connects to the wired network from a fixed location using standard Ethernet cable. An access point performs a role similar to a hub in a wired network, and provides bridging functionality. A single access point can support a small group of users and can function within a range of up to one hundred metres. The access point (or the antenna attached to the access point) is usually mounted on a wall or ceiling.
End users access the wireless LAN through wireless adapters or cards, which are installed
in the PCMCIA slots of notebook computers, or using ISA or PCI adapters in desktop computers, or fully integrated devices within hand-held computers. Wireless LAN adapters provide an interface between the client network operating system and the airwaves.
The nature of the wireless connection is transparent to the NOS. Typical data rates range from 1 to 7 Mbps.
Users need very little new information to take advantage of wireless LANs. The nature of a wireless LAN is transparent to a user's computer, so all applications work the same as they do on wired LANs.
The simplest WLAN configuration is an independent (or peer-to-peer) WLAN that connects a set of PCs with wireless adapters. Any time two or more wireless adapters are within range
of each other they can set up an independent network.