Wireless LAN(WLAN) Network Operation Modes

In wireless networking, various techniques and configurations are used to ensure fast, high-quality, and with secure connections. Different operating types suit different setups based on requirement. It can be difficult to choose the right authentication method. Basically, wireless networks can be classified as managed (Infrastructure) networks and ad-hoc networks.

Infrastructure /Access Point Mode:

In Infrastructure Mode wireless clients are connected to an access point. This is generally the default mode for 802.11b cards. This is also referred as Access Point mode, all connections of the WLAN stations in the network run through the access point, which may also serve as a connection to an Ethernet.

Infrastructure mode WLANs are slightly more difficult to set up than ad-hoc mode WLANs, but provide a single point of control and security for the WLAN. This helps a great deal in keeping the network safe and controlled. Using an AP mode WLAN does also require either a hardware or software AP in the WLAN design. This adds cost over an ad-hoc WLAN, but is usually the best way to go for most WLAN designs.

Ad-hoc Mode:

In Ad-hoc mode clients are connected to one another without any access point. In Ad-hoc mode WLANs are very easy to configure and do not require a great deal of effort to set up. The stations communicate directly with each other, therefore an ad-hoc network is usually faster than a managed network. However, the transmission range and number of participating stations are greatly limited in ad-hoc networks. While this networks well for small home networks or very small offices, this mode of WLAN does not work well in most business environments, as there is no ability to manage the WLAN centrally. They also do not support WPA authentication. In an ad-hoc network, each computer is responsible for its own security and the WLAN itself is unmanaged.

Filed Under: Wireless General

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