WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Networking or just Wireless LAN. The wireless LAN can be set up using any of the wireless communication methods that are normally used.
The most common one is the WiFi or Wireless Fidelity systems. This is the brand name for such wireless systems produced by the WiFi Alliance.
So what is this WiFi? WiFi is a standard protocol and brand owned by the WiFi Alliance. Most internet service providers are subscribers to this brand and make equipments that fit into this interface.
As a matter of fact, WiFi is in line with the IEEE standards 802.11b/g. This means that it works at a 2.5GHz frequency. The major handicap of WiFi is the limitation on the distance that it can reach.
Indoors, this can go up to 120metres while outdoors it can extend up to 300metres. This is a constraint, especially when you need to go beyond these distance limitations; you need to look for some other wireless communication system or may be multiple access points connected to one another either over a wired system or through the wireless itself.
There is of course, the blue tooth that is used in many inter-device communications. In most cases, Bluetooth is referred to as the Personal Area Network. It is fairly private; what sets it apart is the high degree of security and low frequency of operation. Both these factors ensure that your communication does not interfere with other systems.
Particularly, if you are going to work in close proximity with other electronic devices, it is certainly safe to use the Bluetooth enabled network.
It is necessary to remember that if you are going to be in close proximity with highly critical health care equipments, then Bluetooth is the option that you should seriously consider.
But then, the biggest disadvantage of Bluetooth is the limited distance it can cover. You can use it up to 100 meters maximum – this could be a mild exaggeration, the distance might be even less!
You should look at using Bluetooth network for connecting your printers to your computer network. It can also be used to create a basic file sharing system. This is discussed in section 3.5 of this book.
For larger distances, the Radio Frequency transmission is adopted. In most cases this is a directed transmission and will be from point-to-point.
This way, large distances are also covered running into tens of kilometers. But for our current focus of home wireless LANs this might not be significant.
For most of the WLAN constructions at home it is more common to make use of the WiFi network than any other. Bluetooth is most often used for device-to-device communications.
For instance, a Bluetooth network would work well between a mobile and headphones or printer and computer; this should ideally be the only interconnectivity you are looking for with this device.
We will continue with our discussion on the WiFi systems since that is more widespread and commonly used. Secondly, most of our requirements are met by WiFi rather than by any other system of communication. We will take a cursory glance at the inter-device networks using Bluetooth too!