Thursday, March 22, 2007

Standard Devices

Wireless Access Point (WAP)
A wireless access point connects a group of wireless devices to an adjacent wired LAN. An access point is similar to an ethernet hub, relaying data between connected wireless devices in addition to a (usually) single connected wired device, most often an ethernet hub or switch, allowing wireless devices to communicate with other wired devices.

Wireless Adapter
A wireless adapter allows a device to connect to a wireless network. These adapters connect to devices using various interconnects such as PCI, miniPCI, USB, and PCMCIA.

Wireless Router
A wireless router integrates a WAP, ethernet switch, and internal Router firmware application that provides IP Routing, NAT, and DNS forwarding through an integrated WAN interface. A wireless router allows wired and wireless ethernet LAN devices to connect to a (usually) single WAN device such as cable modem or DSL modem. A wireless router allows all three devices (mainly the access point and router) to be configured through one central utility. This utility is most usually an integrated web server which serves web pages to wired and wireless LAN clients and often optionally to WAN clients. This utility may also be an application that is run on a desktop computer such as Apple's AirPort.

Wireless Ethernet Bridge
A wireless Ethernet bridge connects a wired network to a wireless network. This is different from an access point in the sense that an access point connects wireless devices to a wired network at the data-link layer. Two wireless bridges may be used to connect two wired networks over a wireless link, useful in situations where a wired connection may be unavailable, such as between two separate homes.

Range Extender
A wireless range extender or wireless repeater can extend the range of an existing wireless network. Range extenders can be strategically placed to elongate a signal area or allow for the signal area to reach around barriers such as those created in L-shaped corridors. Wireless devices connected through repeaters will suffer from an increased latency for each hop. Additionally, a wireless device at the end of chain of wireless repeaters will have a throughput that is limited by the weakest link within the repeater chain.

Antenna connectors
Most commercial devices (routers, access points, bridges, repeaters) designed for home or business environments use either RP-SMA or RP-TNC antenna connectors. PCI wireless adapters also mainly use RP-SMA connectors.
Most PCMCIA and USB wireless only have internal antennas etched on their printed circuit board while some have MMCX connector or MC-Card external connections in addition to an internal antenna. A few USB cards have a RP-SMA connector.
Most Mini PCI wireless cards utilize Hirose U.FL connectors, but cards found in various wireless appliances contain all of the connectors listed.
Many high-gain (and homebuilt antennas) utilize the Type N connector more commonly used by other radio communications methods.

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