Till now I have been discussing a lot about LAN, WAN, MAN etc. As you can see these are all wired computer network connections I was talking about. These networks were implemented with the use of cables that connect the computers to each other. If you look at the computer industry you will see that laptops, netbooks and PDAs are the fastest growing segment.
Consider the scenario where the people need to connect their office computers to their laptop of PDA while they are on the go. It is impossible to set up a connection using wired medium if they are travelling a lot. This concept gave rise to wireless networking.
Although the idea of wireless networking originated in 1901 for a Morse Code based ship-to-shore wireless telegraph, modern day wireless networks and devices have far better performance and lower security issues.
Uses of Wireless Networks
Probably the most widespread day-to-day example of use of wireless networks are sending and receiving calls on the go using a cellular device, emails, browsing the internet while on the move and so on. This is very important for business people as businesses need constant monitoring by key people.
Wireless Networks also work on a personal note. It is great for people like repair persons to keep contact with home. Trucks and other such services can link with their parent organization for constant communication between them.
In any places where wired networking is not possible, wireless networks are the only solution. In most remote places, it is not feasible to establish a wired network and so wireless networks are implemented. It also helps in the case of disaster recovery where wired cabling has been destroyed. The rescue operations can keep other organizations and people updated about the stats.
Portability and Wireless Network Devices
Although we generally refer to mobile devices as an integral part of wireless networking, it is not always the case. Not all wireless network devices are portable. Say for example a company has 100 nodes in an office and they need to connect all of them. Installing a LAN would be the best choice, but in certain cases they would not be able to do it due to operating restrictions. In these cases, the fixed workstations are connected wirelessly. These are part of wireless network but are not portable.
Consider the case of mobile devices. They are not always part of a wireless network. If the company assigns a laptop to a particular user and he takes it out and attaches it to another network using phone line or wired LAN. In this case the network is wired but the device is portable.
Disadvantages of Wireless LAN
Although wireless LANs are easier to install and maintain, they have several disadvantages too.
- Lower Speed
- Higher error rates
- Interference is possible
- Security risks are high
Types of Wireless Networks
Just as LAN’s have different configurations; wireless networks also can be implemented in a number of ways.
- Using antennas to enable digital communication with the wireless LAN
- Using direct digital cellular service, CDPD
- Combination of wireless and wired networks