Set up a wireless LAN - understand it

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Set up a wireless LAN

Understand it

Even the smallest offices today usually use some type of network. You might have a simple peer-to-peer network in which two or more computers are connected by Cat 5 (Category 5) cabling that plugs into the network adapters on the PCs. Users can share resources – printers, drives and files – on their computers with other users on the network by running a few commands to make them accessible to everyone. This type of setup is inexpensive but requires a lot of manual configuration, especially when changes to the layout are necessary.
Set up a wireless LAN
A step up from peer-to-peer networking is a client/server setup. One computer running a network operating system, such as Windows Server 2003 or 2008, holds data files for all users on the network. It can also provide application sharing, such as for databases, and act as a print server if it has an attached printer.
Set up a wireless LAN
With this type of network, you can add printers with network interfaces and embedded print servers directly to the network to reduce the load on the main server. Each client computer is a workstation on the network, which can access the server and all network-accessible devices via cabling attached to a network router or switch. Client/server networks are more expensive than peer-to-peer networks to set up and maintain, but you gain much more flexibility and, usually, higher throughput (the rate at which data is transmitted) on the network overall.
Although wires and cables are the traditional medium for creating networks, they aren't the most efficient medium. Wires can only carry a signal so far, and you have to physically move and rearrange them if you want to reorganize your network configuration. In addition, exposed or visible network wiring doesn't add to the aesthetic appearance of your computing environment and setup.
Note: For a LAN cabling and connectors tutorial, consider taking the Networking 101 class, offered frequently through the HP Learning Center.
Wireless networking is proving itself a viable and affordable alternative to traditional wired networks that gives you the same benefits without cumbersome and limiting wires. In a wireless network – often referred to as a WLAN or Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) network – all of the computers broadcast their information to one another using radio signals. This can make network arrangement and setup extremely easy, especially when you have many computers and devices distributed throughout your office or organization. When you don't have to work with wires, you can more easily reconfigure your office space or organizational layout as your company grows and changes, and you can also extend connectivity to new or visiting staff quickly and easily.
A wireless network gives employees increased mobility and enables them to share files, printers, other computing devices and internet access more easily and with less effort needed by technical support staff. In addition, users can benefit from VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or VoWWAN (Voice over Wireless WAN) technology to make phone calls using their WLAN or WWAN connections on a notebook PC, for example.
Note: In many cases, you can provide wireless service to client computers on demand with minimal setup, most or all of which can be automated.
For example, your staff can use notebook PCs with wireless network interfaces (either embedded or as add-on cards) at a conference room table and still be connected to your network – without concern about whether the conference room is actually wired for access. From their networked computer they can share files, printers and internet access just as they would if they were connected to the LAN with wires. Meetings can be more productive as participants have access to the information they need when they need it and can begin to work on, if not complete, action items right in the meeting.
Wireless LANs can be part of a completely wireless network, or an extension of your wired LAN. In the real world, you probably won't switch from a wired LAN to a wireless LAN overnight, but will instead integrate wireless into your network as it makes sense and meets your needs. Once you have a thorough understanding of what a wireless network can do for you, and what it takes to integrate it into your current systems, you can better proceed down the path to a wireless networking solution.
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Set up a wireless LAN

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Related courses

  • The HP Learning Center offers a variety of courses related to wireless networking. Visit it today and look for:
  • •  Wireless networking solutions
  • •  The wireless mobile office