Everything you need to know about implementing a wireless LAN

ITworld.com |  Networking

As I discussed in href="http://www.itworld.com/Net/2629/ITW2522/">my last column,
requirements are a foundation for defining a wireless LAN's function. The next step is
to specify the technical aspects and components of a wireless LAN -- e.g. access
points, radio cards, and associated software -- that satisfy those requirements.

To ensure a successful design, execute the following steps:

  1. Select a standard. Determine which wireless-LAN standard
    best satisfies your requirements. Choose between IEEE 802.11 at 1 or 2 Mbps and href="http://mithras.itworld.com/articles/columns/net-geier-0323.html">IEEE 802.11b
    at 11 Mbps. You'll soon be able to add href="http://www.itworld.com/Net/2629/ITW000829Geir/">IEEE 802.11a
    products, with data rates up to 54 Mbps, to the list.

    Your choice of a standard depends mostly on your data rate requirements, as I said
    in my last
    column
    . With 802.11 alternatives, you must take into account HREF="http://www.wireless-nets.com/whitepaper_spread.htm">frequency hopping vs. direct
    sequence
    tradeoffs. Most designers now choose 802.11b because it offers
    Ethernet-equivalent speeds and is priced only slightly higher than 802.11
    equipment.

  2. Define optional features. Many IEEE-802.11-compliant wireless
    LANs implement optional features, giving system designers more choices. For example,
    designers can choose to implement 802.11's Point Coordination Function (PCF), which
    delivers time-bounded data via synchronous communications using station-polling
    mechanisms; in other words, it better supports real-time transmissions of video and
    voice.

    Another optional feature is Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which provides frame
    transmission privacy similar to that of wired networks by generating secret
    shared-encryption keys for source and destination stations. Consider using this feature
    if you need a higher security level.

  3. Properly size the network. Be sure to determine the number of
    access points necessary to provide adequate throughput, and locate them to give your
    users complete coverage. Perform an RF site survey. Also, if you need higher
    throughput, consider collocating access points that operate on different channels --
    this increases the bandwidth available in specific areas.

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