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WLAN routing


There may be some confusion over the difference between WLAN routers and access points. The main thing to remember is that access points allow wireless clients access to a single network, while WLAN routers allow clients to browse a number of different networks. The router always takes the IP address into account to make decisions on how to forward (i.e., route) the packet; whereas, access points generally ignore the IP address and forward all packets. (Biddick, M. 2007, 62-78)

A wireless local area network (WLAN) router adds a built-in access point (AP) function to a multi-port Ethernet router. This combines multiple Ethernet networks with wireless connections as well. A typical WLAN router includes four Ethernet ports, an 802.11 access point, and sometimes a parallel port so it can be a print server. This gives wireless users the same ability as wired users to send and receive packets over multiple networks. 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11b/a combo WLAN routers are now available from several vendors such as Netgear, D-Link and Actiontec. 802.11g routers are also starting to hit the market.

In fact a router transfers packets between diverse networks. The router chooses the next best link to send packets on in order to reach closer to the final destination. Routers use Internet Protocol (Internet Protocol) packet headers and routing tables, as well as internal protocols to determine the best path for each packet. Most routers connect a local area network (LAN), like the one in your home office or small business, to a wide area network (WAN), like the cable system connecting a cable modem, by interfacing a broadband modem to the network within the small business or home office. (Biddick, M. 2007, 62-78)

When you shop for wireless equipment, you will be asked which of three industry WLAN industry standards you plan to employ--802.11b, 802.11a or 802.11g. All wireless equipment uses one or more of these standard specifications. The 802.11b designation was the first to be deployed and is the most widely used. The "a" standard was introduced next but is not widely used because it isn't compatible with "b" devices. The "g" standard is the newest and the most versatile; it's compatible with both "a" and "b". For our example, we will use equipment designed for the "g" standard, a Linksys Wireless Access Point Router, which costs about $70, and two Ethernet cables, costing about $5 each. Configuring the WLAN takes no more than an hour or so. Follow along with us as we provide the steps. The Linksys does multiple tasks. As a wireless access point it creates the connection to your network. Its four ports also let you connect wired devices. And as a router it allows the office network (wireless and wired) to share a high-speed cable or DSL Internet connection; a dial-up connection is not recommended because it is too slow. Since the Linksys provides both wired and wireless local area network (LAN) access, you also can plug a desktop computer into it for a wired ...
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