The First Wireless Network Sta Essay Research

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The First Wireless Network Sta Essay, Research Paper The First Wireless Network Protocol: 802.11 Approval of the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless local area networking (WLAN) and rapid progress made toward higher data rates have put the promise of truly mobile computing within reach. While wired LANs have been a mainstream technology for at least fifteen years, WLANs are uncharted territory for most networking professionals. Some obvious questions come to mind when considering wireless networking: + How can WLANs be integrated with wired network infrastructure? + What is the underlying radio technology? + How is multiple access handled? + What about network security? IEEE 802.11 is limited in scope to the Physical (PHY) layer and Medium Access Control (MAC) layer (Lough, 3),

but it shares MAC characteristics with the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard (3Com, 2). The following overview explains major differences between wired and wireless LANs and should answer some of the questions that arise when evaluating WLAN technology. Network Topology WLANs can be used either to replace wired LANs, or as an extension of the wired LAN infrastructure. The basic topology of an 802.11 network is shown in Figure 1. A Basic Service Set (BSS) consists of two or more wireless nodes, or stations, which have recognized each other and have established communications. In the most basic form, stations communicate directly with each other on a peer-to-peer level sharing a given cell coverage area. This type of network is often formed on a temporary basis, and is commonly referred

to as an ad hoc network, or Independent Basic Service Set (IBSS) (Geier, 3). Figure 1 (Intel, 1) In more structured environments, the BSS contains an Access Point (AP). The main function of an AP is to form a bridge between wireless and wired LANs. The AP is similar to a basestation used in cellular phone networks. When an AP is present, stations do not communicate on a peer-to-peer basis. All communications between stations or between a station and a wired network client go through the AP. AP s are not mobile, and form part of the wired network infrastructure. A BSS in this configuration is said to be operating in the infrastructure mode. The Extended Service Set (ESS) consists of a series of overlapping BSSs (each containing an AP) connected together by means of a Distribution

System (Geier, 3). Although the Distribution System could be any type of network, it is almost invariably an Ethernet LAN. Mobile nodes can roam between APs and seamless campus-wide coverage is possible. Radio Technology IEEE 802.11 provides for two variations of the physical layer. These include two RF technologies, namely, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS), and Frequency Hopped Spread Spectrum (FHSS). The DSSS and FHSS physical layer options were designed specifically to conform to FCC regulations for operation in the 2.4 GHz ISM bands, which has worldwide allocation for unlicensed operation (Geier, 3). Both FHSS and DSSS physical layers currently support 1 and 2 Mbps. However, all 11 Mbps radios are DSSS. Multiple Access The basic access method for 802.11 is the

Distributed Coordination Function (DCF) which uses Carrier Sense Multiple Access / Collision Avoidance (CSMA / CA) (Lough, 4) similar to AppleTalk. This requires each station to listen for other users. If the channel is idle, the station may transmit. However if it is busy, each station waits until transmission stops, and then enters into a random back off procedure. This prevents multiple stations from seizing the medium immediately after completion of the preceding transmission. Packet reception in DCF requires acknowledgement. The period between completion of packet transmission and start of the acknowledgement (ACK) frame is one Short Inter Frame Space (SIFS) or 28 microseconds (Brenner, 8). ACK frames have a higher priority than other traffic. Fast acknowledgement is one of