What is WLAN (Wireless LAN)?

What is WLAN (Wireless LAN)?

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Jan 9, 2024 15:11 IST

The LAN network could not provide the flexibility to move around without being tethered to a physical connection. And this was hampering the flexibility and productivity of the users. In order to tackle this problem, researchers came up with WLAN technology.

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In simple terms, WLAN or Wireless LAN is a technology that allows devices to connect to the internet wirelessly without needing cables. And because of this feature, WLANs are being used in various places, such as homes, businesses, schools, etc., and have become an essential part of our daily lives.

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Before diving deeper into the article, let’s first explore the list of topics listed under the table of contents (TOC) we will cover in this article. Here’s the table:

Table of Contents (TOC)

What is WLAN?

WLAN Definition: WLAN is a technology that allows you to connect multiple devices to the internet using radio technology instead of using wires or cables. 

WLAN’s full form is Wireless Lan Area Network. Wireless LAN allows people to connect their devices, such as laptops, mobiles, etc., to the internet without connecting them using cables. WLAN works in a particular area, such as a school, home, campus, or office building.

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The Wireless LAN allows you to move around in a specific area and still stay connected to the internet. This technology is essential because it makes it easier for people to access the internet from almost anywhere they want, thus increasing and boosting the productivity and flexibility of the users.

History of WLAN 

The researchers started exploring the idea of wireless communication in the 1970s. It was in the early 1990s that the first commercial, WLAN, was launched. The world’s first wireless computer communication network, ALOHAnet, was developed by a professor at the University of Hawaii named Norman Abramson.

At first, WLAN was unpopular due to its slow speed and high cost. However, with advances in technology, the speed and range of WLAN are improving, and it is becoming more affordable. Today, it is very common for people to use WLAN in homes, businesses, and public places. WLAN, also known as Local Area Wireless Network (LAWN), transfers data using frequencies such as 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

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Types of WLAN 

WLANs can be classified into two types:

  • Infrastructure WLAN
  • Ad-hoc WLAN

Let’s explore each type in detail.

Infrastructure WLAN: This WLAN uses a central device called a wireless access point (WAP) to connect devices to the network. The WAP is usually connected to a wired network and provides wireless connectivity to devices within its coverage area.

Example: In a home network, the wireless router is the WAP. With an infrastructure WLAN, devices can connect to each other and the internet through the WAP.

Ad-hoc WLAN: This WLAN allows devices to connect to each other directly without the need for a central access point. This type of network is useful when devices need to communicate with each other but no existing infrastructure network is available.

Example: Suppose you’re in a park with a group of friends, and you want to share photos. To accomplish this, you can create an ad hoc WLAN network to connect your devices. Ad hoc WLAN networks are also commonly used in peer-to-peer file-sharing applications.

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Wireless LAN Working 

Understanding the working of WLAN is simple. It’s almost the same as the working of LAN networking. The only difference is that WLAN can connect your device to the network without a cable. To you, it would feel like you’re connected to a LAN workstation. The only difference is using a wireless connection instead of a cable.

WLAN uses radio waves to send and receive data between devices, like your laptop and a wireless router. The router acts as a central hub that allows multiple devices to connect to the network and communicate.

For example, let’s say you want to connect your laptop to a Wireless LAN in your home. First, you turn on your laptop’s wireless network adapter, which detects any available wireless networks within range. Then, you select your home network from the list of available networks and enter the password to connect. Once connected, your laptop can send and receive data from the router, allowing you to access the internet and perform various other activities, such as sharing files with other devices on the network, printing documents wirelessly, etc.

The radio waves used by Wireless LAN can travel through walls and other obstacles. You can use your laptop or another wireless device from different rooms in your home or office building without being directly connected to the router by a cable.

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WLAN Applications 

The wireless LAN network has various applications, depending on the place it is being used. Such as, if you are planning to use Wireless LAN at home, it will allow you to connect devices such as laptops, smartphones, and smart TVs to the internet. 

In office places, the Wireless LAN network will allow your employees to connect their devices to the internet and share resources such as printers and files with other employees. 

The Wireless LAN network will allow customers to access the internet in public places, such as coffee shops. Wireless LAN technology is also being used in IoT devices such as smart thermostats and security cameras in order to improve flexibility.

Advantages of WLAN 

Here are some of the advantages of Wireless LAN:

  • Flexibility: Users can move around within the Wireless LAN coverage area while maintaining network connectivity.
  • Less expensive: Setting up a Wireless LAN network is less expensive in comparison to a wired network. It is so because a Wireless LAN requires fewer physical components, such as cables and switches, thus reducing the cost.
  • Easy installation: Wireless LAN is easy to install as you don’t have to run cables or install ports in walls and ceilings.
  • Easily scalable: Wireless LAN networks are easy to scale as you need to add more access points to increase coverage.

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Disadvantages of WLAN  

Here are some of the disadvantages of Wireless LAN:

  • Less secure: As wireless signals are more prone to cyberattack, Wireless LAN is less secure if not configured properly than a LAN network.
  • Limited range: The area covered by a Wireless LAN is not quite large, and in order to increase the Wireless LAN coverage area, you require additional access points.
  • Bandwidth issues: WLANs may experience bandwidth limitations due to the shared nature of the wireless medium, which can result in slower speeds.
  • Interference: WLANs are vulnerable to interference from other wireless devices and can experience degraded performance or dropped connections as a result.
  • Reliability issues: The range and performance of the wireless LAN network can be affected by various factors, such as rain, the number of obstacles, etc. Hence, because of these factors, the chances of dropping the connection increase greatly.

Conclusion

In this article, we have explored what Wireless LAN is. We have also explored its types, working, advantages, disadvantages, applications, etc., in great detail. If you have any queries related to the topic, please feel free to send your queries to us in the form of a comment. We will be happy to help you.

Happy Learning!!

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio